The lush green crops beside the main road to the North in South Africa is a truly a feast for the eye. One of the farms to thank for this lovely sight for passers by is F&R Farming, owned by Frans and Reint Dykema, with its irrigation system designed by market leader, Agrico.
The Dykemas are irrigation farmers alongside the Pienaarsrivier in the Warmbad district. Under the name F&R Farming they produce mostly maize, wheat and soya beans with 1 600 hectares under irrigation.
“Our father began farming here forty years ago with nothing. He had no centre pivots or cultivated fields on the farm. There was only bush. My brother, Reint and I took over the reins in 2007. Today we are known as F&R Farming where we manage the crop production together,” Frans says.
“We recently expanded and diversified with blackberries and gooseberries,” Frans adds. “Without water and efficient irrigation systems, our farming operation cannot thrive. We harvest two crops a year, and if your fertiliser and water are not applied timely and accurately, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise at the end of the season,” Frans explains. In 2020 the brothers took hands with Agrico to start a new project on the farm. “Over the years we have used several pivot companies, but with this project we decided to move to Agrico,” said Frans.
Part of the crops, around 182 hectares, is currently under LEPA irrigation. “At first, I was sceptical about all these long pipes and innovations, but as the team from Agrico Brits and Nylstroom moved forward with the project, I was pleasantly surprised.
“The first time I entered the new pump station, there was no noise as before. It almost felt unreal. “The power saving compared to the other pivots is huge. We save 40% power with the LEPA system.”
Frans explains the advantages of LEPA irrigation for their farm: Most important is lower power consumption. Close on its heels is reduced water consumption due to the large droplets and less evaporation, as well as less maintenance and wear and tear on the pumps due to the low speed and low pressure of the system. Also, the pivot does not get stuck easily. This means less downtime and more irrigation time. They also apply liquid fertiliser through the new LEPA system.
“Another advantage of Agrico’s irrigation system is the Web Control system connected to the LEPA system,” Frans says. If one pivot completes its irrigation cycle before another on the same pipeline, then the water is automatically shut off. The speed of the pump motor and pivot can be controlled and regulated from the online control system. You can also control your water pressure and speed with a simple programme that you write for the pivot.
“From a management perspective, it makes life so much easier. I can manage and monitor everything from anywhere in the world,” says Tyler Hillbrook, Farm Manager of F&R Farming. “We have no complaints on the service we get from Agrico. It is great to know that what we need is available and that the representatives are always there to help and support wherever they can. From day one, the Agrico team was dedicated to help us with the planning, design, and after-sales service.
“You never have to wait. They know that an irrigation farmer does not like to wait, neither can he afford it,” Frans adds.
LEPA – low energy precision application. A LEPA package places the water closer to the soil surface to dramatically reduce evaporation and water loss through wind. Since LEPA sprinklers work at low pressure, they also save electricity.