The effective management of water remains an essential ingredient of success in farming. It involves many trade-offs and technical decisions.
This is why irrigation suppliers have a responsibility to understand the producer’s needs, while also staying current with technological developments and new market offerings. To be a leader in irrigation, one needs to walk next to the farmer. This is how we will continue to contribute to the individual producer and the industry as a whole in the year to come.
Close relationships that lead to understanding
Success in agriculture entails careful stewardship of resources, with the support of carefully selected suppliers and service providers. As suppliers of equipment and advice, we must build long-term relationships in order to act as the bridge between farmers and manufacturers of irrigation equipment. These relationships are precious and based on mutual trust, loyalty and respect.
After consulting with a (potential) client, an irrigation designer has a duty to act in their best interest when proposing a solution to the problem at hand. When it comes to recommending or designing an economically viable and sustainable irrigation system, few things are as vital as an intimate understanding of the needs of the producer.
An irrigation system involves tradeoffs. Investing in larger pipes now, for example, can reduce electricity usage later. Opting to furnish a pump with an expensive variable speed drive may increase the complexity of the system, but may unlock large energy savings in the long run. The list goes on. All these tradeoffs have to be considered when specifying an irrigation system. In order to be able to do this, irrigation designers have to be intimately familiar with the needs of the producer.
Strong and widespread support network
When it comes to after-sales service, one thing is certain: it is critical to be as close as possible to the farmer, literally and figuratively. Especially at the peak of the growing season, when growers cannot afford not to irrigate, it is critical that components and spare parts are available from stock, or in the worst case, with quick delivery from another branch, a central warehouse or the ultimate supplier.
Being present in the area and keeping stock of critical parts is an essential part of supporting growers and assuring them that they are investing in the best irrigation solution and support system.
Beyond providing high calibre customer service for customers, an extensive support network is important to irrigation designers themselves.
Selecting the correct technology for the situation at hand is often nuanced and highly dependent on the specific circumstances being faced by the grower. Drip-, micro-, sprinkler and centre pivot irrigation each have their place, with varying degrees of overlap and interchangeability according to the specific situation at hand.
Regular contact with many customers, suppliers and colleagues fosters an environment of learning and sharing of information. With such a network designers and technicians are able to develop themselves and stay current with the latest trends and developments in irrigation technology, resulting in better solutions being offered to their customers.
Ensuring water, energy and capital are efficiently used
By offering elegant irrigation solutions, using carefully selected components and technology, we can make the most of available resources such as water, energy and capital.
To mitigate the harsh reality of water and energy constraints, the process of designing irrigation systems today must be focussed on the optimal use of resources. Careful attention needs to be paid to selecting the correct sprinkler package, optimising spacing, water distribution and uniformity, pipe sizes, with the correct automation and scheduling to truly get the most out of each drop of water.
Innovation where it matters
The South African producer of today is extremely competitive on an international level. Our farmers operate under difficult conditions. Commercial farmers receive minimal support from the state, input costs are high, the roads are in poor condition and water and electricity are in short supply.
Fortunately, our farmers are famous for their resilience and resourcefulness. They have learned to face the challenges by farming effectively, economically and scientifically. Agrico’s managing director Walter Andrag expressed this sentiment last year in an interview with RSG Landbou’s Eloise Pretorius:
“South African farmers are amongst the best in the world, because circumstances have forced them to think innovatively, to use the best technology and to look creatively at the world. It inspires me to see how they make something out of nothing.”
South African producers are at the forefront of technology worldwide. Many younger farmers have achieved great results by adopting high-tech systems. Modern solutions such as Agrico Web Control, which allows a producer to control their entire irrigation system from his or her mobile phone, continue to play a significant role in increasing productivity and profitability.
When you serve a technologically developed irrigation market, you have to be able to keep up. In fact, you have to be one step ahead.