The Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Scheme was developed in late 1940's to provide borderdyke irrigation supply via a gravity fed open channel system.
The scheme was originally designed to provide enough water to irrigate 60% of farmer's property, which at that time was considered to be sufficient.
- Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation (ALIL) is a New Zealand registered company with 100% of its assets in Mid Canterbury of New Zealand.
- Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd registered office is in Ashburton.
- Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd is a farmer owned co-operative, which receives its allocation of water from the Rangitata Diversion Race Management Ltd & currently delivers its water through a network of races & pressurised pipe system to its shareholder members who collectively farm close to 30,000 ha.
- Existing Irrigated Area: 29,839 ha.
- 244 shareholders hold a total of 1,204,142 shares, with a water allocation of 12,041.42 litres / second.
- The Irrigation Season runs 10th September to 9th May.
- In the period from 1989 to 1992 the Company negotiated the acquistion from the Crown and administered by the Ministry of Works, an Irrigation Scheme comprising open races.
- The Company was incorporated on 22 September 1989 with farmers subsribing for shares (2/ha) to fund the start-up capital to get the business operational, such as employ staff, buy plant & machinery & funding easements & water supply agreements.
- 2008 - Stage 1 Piping Scheme commenced construction.
- 2009 saw the developement of the Turbine Scheme.
- 1 November 2012 shareholders' voted in favour of Stage 2 Piping Scheme Upgrade.
- December 2012 the Company changed the share standard which staples the right to delivery of a certain maximum volume of water to the number of shares that must be held by a shareholder. The share standard is now 100 shares giving access to 1 litre per second of water (1 share per 0.01 l/s of water) on a constant flow basis during the irrigation season, subject to availability of water.
Mid Canterbury Irrigation & RDRML
- Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd along with Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Ltd and Valetta Irrigation Ltd Irrigate 75,000 hectares of Farm Land in Mid-Canterbury and are the three Irrigation Company Shareholders of Rangitata Diversion Race Management Ltd (RDRML). Ashburton District Council along with Trustpower are the two, non-Irrigation Scheme Shareholders.
- RDRML was a dream of pioneering farmers in Mid Canterbury when the 750,000 acre plain was first farmed in the mid-19th Century. It took the massive unemployment of the 1930s depression to provide the catalyst for the work to start in what would become the RDR.
- Work on the RDR began on April 2nd 1937 & was completed in November 1944 and is the largest Irrigation Scheme in New Zealand.
- The RDR race is 67 km in length, with an average width of 15 metres, has a race capacity of 31 cubic m/sec at an average depth of 3 metres. The RDR runs from the Rangitata River through to the Highbank Power Station located on the Rakaia River.
- Currently ALIL has an allocation of 13.277 cumecs of water from RDRML, delivering water to 244 shareholders.
- Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd is also a shareholder of Irrigo Centre Ltd which as formed in 2011 to provide a coordinated administration service for its shareholder members, Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd, Acton Farmers Irrigation Co-op Ltd, BCI Scheme, Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Ltd & Valetta Irrigation Ltd.
- Directors of Irrigo Centre Ltd began exploring additional ways to support each other & identified potential to add further value to the schemes by consolidating resources, enhancing services & identifying areas where the schemes can work more closely. This resulted in leasing joint office space, shareing policy & environmental services, resources such as flow meters, generators & GPS.
Pressurised Pipe system supplying 4,000 ha
- 18 December 2007 Shareholders approved the $8 million Stage 1 Piping Proposal and 2008 saw the project get underway which was ground-breaking in New Zealand at the time.
- The concept was to use the natural fall of the land within open channel irrigation scheme to generate pressurised water at the farm gate, by piping the water from the RDR to each individual farm. Sufficient pressure would be generated to spray irrigate without pumping.
- 30km of Pipeline, supplying 37 properties to irrigate around 4,000ha was installed. The design pressure allowed a minimum of 40 metres (58psi) to each property, sufficent for Centre Pivots, Laterals, Travelling Irrigators & Sprinklers.
- Advantages of Stage 1 included Energy Savings - Pumping & Transmission Losses, improved water efficiency, including 15% saving in water by eliminating losses of open channel system, increased irrigated area, minimum of 50 year design life, with very low maintenance.
Turbine Scheme Development
- After Stage 1 Piping Scheme was completed the 5 farmers just below the RDR could see the advantage of scheme pressurised water, however were too close to the RDR and could not use gravity to generate pressure. The solution was to use water powered turbines to generate the pressure.
- Two turbines were installed on the main race of the ALIL scheme, 1 km below the RDR race and become operational in December 2009, supply water over 940ha. One turbine drives a high pressure pump supplying water to five big gun irrigators and the other turbine driving a low pressure pump supplying seven centre pivots.
- The capital cost was approximately $580,000, however the annual electricity saving for the 5 farmers is in the vicinity of $125,000 annually. The two turbines operate high & low pressure pumps independently. The high pressure pump outputs 110 l/sec @ 80m head, low pressure 235 l/sec @ 40m head.
Stage 2 Piping Proposal
- 1 November 2012, 90% voter participation, of which 82% voted in favor of piping over 200km of the scheme's open races, allowing the Board to enter into major contracts which will enable 5 ponds to be created at an approximate cost of $95 million and entering into banking arrangements necessary to implement the major capital expenditure to upgrade the infrastructure.
- As the scheme is extended beyond existing boundaries the expected cost is up to an additional $12 million, funded from new share applications.
- Significant water savings, delivery of water under pressure & increased reliability, along with the necessity to keep up with a changing environmental perception of ensuring water was used far more efficiently and water losses are kept to a minimum were the driving force behind the major upgrade.
- The energy saved by piping the scheme will be equivalent to the energy used by 2,000 homes.
- The contract was awarded to Water Infrastructure Group (WIG) in December 2013 and work began in early 2014. Redline Group and Ashburton Contracting Ltd are the sub-contractors undertaking welding & laying of the pipe.
- The minimum design pressure is 40 metres (58 psi) to each property, with the potential 18% saving in water allowing an additional 4,000ha to be irrigated.
- The 3 year project is to be completed by July 2017.
Shareholder Irrigation Systems and Land Use
- Water is delivered to 244 shareholders whose farms are west and north of Ashburton
- Borderdyke Irrigation has been developed over the years, from originally a totally manual system of wild flooding, to the wide border system with digital clocks allowing flood irrigation to be set up for at least a 24 hour period. Up until 10 years ago, 90% of the schemes shareholders used Borderdyke Irrigation, this presently sits around 30%, with around 7% of shareholders converting to Spray Irrigation annually.
- Spray Irrigation has been used in Ashburton Lyndhurst for at least 30 years, but recent times have seen a dramatic shift, from borderdyke, with efficiencies constantly improving. The latest systems designed to apply water with millimeter accuracy to meet the plants requirements with use of soil moisture probes.
- Land use over time has continued to change. Currently 44% is applied to Dairy, 23% Dairy Support, 17% Arable, 14% Sheep & Beef and 1% Other. ALIL predominately has medium to light soils.
- The Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) divides Canterbury into separate groundwater zones and the LWRP process is setting nutrient limits for each of these zones. Part of this process requires all properties (greater than 5ha and losing more than 20 kg/N/ha) to have a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) completed in 2016 or 2017.
- Part 1 of the FEP has recently been rolled out, which requires an on-line survey to be completed. Shareholders will be required to provide information including, Farm Area, Farm Land Use, Irrigation, Nutrient Management & supply of a Farm Map.
- Completion of the FEP is a consent requirement for all shareholders being supplied with RDR Water. During the next 2 years shareholders will also be required to complete FEP - Part 2, which includes risk assessment & management within land management units and management practices against FEP objectives and targets. History has shown the FEP process helps many farmers to increase the efficiency of their water and nutrient use to give an increase in productivity and profit.