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Review - Portable Effluent Irrigator Options

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Review - Choosing between portable irrigator options

Portable effluent irrigators are a great low cost and reasonably low labour solution for spreading, but it's important to way up your options before investing in one for your farm.  The traditional travelling irrigator, or rain gun is still a popular choice for many dairy farmers, however other options such as the travelling rain gun, Fertigators™, or RainWave™ draghose system can have additional benefits. 

Below we've rated these different portable effluent irrigator options based on 12 factors. The overall rating at the bottom is based on their average score.
effluent for crops
Irrigator Type
Travelling Irrigator
Travelling Irrigator
Fertigator™
Nevada Fertigator
Stationary Rain Gun
Trailing Shoe
Travelling Rain Gun (Inc. Hard Hose Reel)
Travelling Rain Gun
RainWave™Draghose System
RainWave 3 Point Linkage
Pond Level Management (speed)

Good

Good

Very Good

Very Good

Excellent

Application (m³ per day)

Good

Good

Very Good

Very Good

Excellent

Spread Accuracy/Control 

Very Good

Good

Poor

Poor

Excellent

Spread Width

Varies depending on model

Approx. 1500m2 diameter

Approx. 46-75m

Approx. 46-75m

Approx. 15-20m

Volitisation 

Average

High

Very High

Very High

Low

Wind Drift

Average

High

Very High

Very High

Low

Odour Emissions

Average

High

Very High

Very High

Low

Suitability For Undulating Terrain

Not Suitable

Excellent

Poor

Very Good

Very Good

Odd Shaped Paddocks

Poor

Good

Average

Very Poor

Excellent

Capital Outlay

Low

Minimal

Minimal

Moderate

Moderate

Susceptibility To Error/Operating Issues

High

Average

Average

High

Low

Maintenance

High

Minimal

Low

High

Minimal

Graizing Withholding Period

3 Weeks +

3 Weeks +

3 Weeks +

3 Weeks +

Approx. 1 Week

Overall Rating
2.6
3.5
3.0
2.4
4.5

#1 Rainwave™ Draghose System

Although a draghose system might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to portable irrigators, it is a popular choice for farmers as an alternative to travelling irrigators without the expense of going to a slurry tanker.

A drag hose system will allow for more flexibility in movement and range than a travelling irrigator, while the low pressure Rainwave™ applicator provides much better control over application and low volitisation and wind drift.  Although it comes at a slightly higher initial cost, the benefits of low maintenance, speed, faster graising time and reliability will save you money in the long run.
Rainwave™
Nevada Fertigator on hillside

#2 Fertigators™

Fertigators™ are a very low cost portable effluent spreading solution, and can be connected together to spread over a larger area at one time.  They have a controlled, low application rate, and operate with 10mm, 12mm or 14mm nossles to minimise blockages - meaning they rarely require maintenance.  With a wide stability base, they are well suited to undulating terrain.  Although they do have a large spreading diameter and reasonable speed, they also have high volitisation and wind drift, leading to more odour emissions compared to a RainWave™ spreading.

#3 Stationary Rain Gun

A good stationary rain gun (contractor level) is usually quite fast when it comes to reducing your pond levels and spreading.  They can also spread over a considerable width, and be adjusted to suit odd shaped paddocks.  However if you require accuracy, a rain gun is not a good option, and you are more likely to have ponding and run-off issues if they are not monitored.  Due to the high volume and wide spread, they also have high volitisation and wind drift.
Stationary Rain Gun
effluent for crops

#4 Travelling Irrigator

Travelling irrigators can be a great option if you're looking for something you can 'set and forget'.  They can often be programmed to run overnight when nutrients are best absorbed.  They are also moderately priced, and allow for good accuracy when it comes to spreading.  A low pressure travelling irrigator is not too bad when it comes to wind drift and volitisation - they are better than a rain gun, but not as good as a RainWave.  Although they are not as fast as the other methods, they are not slow, and the speed may not be an issue considering they can be set to run by themselves with little monitoring required.  Of course a travelling irrigator is limited by the reach of your in-ground system. The other issue often found with irrigators is in breakdowns and maintenance.  They are very susceptable to blockages and require regular maintenance to ensure a consistent operation.

#5 Travelling Rain Gun

The travelling rain gun fell only slightly behind the travelling irrigators when adding up all the factors.  Like the stationary rain gun, these can be great for pumping out large volumes of effluent over large distances, but the bonus with these is that they are easier to move.  Unfortunately they also share the same high volitisation rates, wind drift and inaccuracy of spread.  Further to this, they come at a higher cost than a stationary rain gun, and require frequent maintenance to ensure consistent operation.
Travelling Rain Gun

Talk to a Nevada specialist today

It's important to get the correct equipment to suit your farming operation, and understand how it will work for you. Contact us and talk to a Nevada specialist - we might even be able to see if we can arrange a demo in your area!

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Buying the Nevada tanker would be one of the best farming decisions I ever made.

Gordon Brown, Dairy Farmer & Contractor, Reporoa, Bay of Plenty
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