Intensive pasture grazing requires irrigation, and that typically means expensive systems that are time- and labor-intensive to move and maintain.
Recent system developments from New Zealand, however, may have changed all that.
At an irrigated-pasture field day in southeastern Washington, Frank Hendrix of the Yakima WSU Extension office demonstrated the new K-Line system he uses, which was developed by a New Zealand farmer who wanted a system that was relatively inexpensive, could be moved quickly and easily, and could withstand the rigors of grazing livestock.
The result was a system that can be moved in literally a matter of minutes with just about anything, from a tractor to an ATV.
In a demonstration for the field day attendees, Hendrix moved the system in use on his pasture in about 10 minutes, using his small farm tractor.
However, a K-Line representative with a zippy four- wheeler did the same job in less than half that time.
What makes the quick-change possible is the design of the durable plastic pods that house and protect the sprinkler heads.
These skid across pasture foliage easily and are designed with a rounded base that helps keep them upright when they're moved, and makes them easy to right if they should get turned over in the process.
Though the pods are relatively short, their use in tall pasture grass is not a problem, because of the trajectory of the water stream and the tendency of the stream to gently push back the grass close to the pod.
The pods are connected with plastic pipe that the K-Line rep said had "no memory," by which he meant that it straightened easily after being uncoiled from shipping, and it stayed straight.
The pipe is also said to resist ultraviolet damage from exposure to sunlight. K-Line cited an example in which the pipe showed no UV damage after seven years of outside use.
The standard coverage range for the sprinkler nozzles is 50 feet, and systems typically place the pods 50 feet apart on the line.
Systems can be matched to individual fields and can be used on virtually any terrain.
According to another K-Line system user who attended the field day, plugged nozzles can be removed, cleaned and replaced without shutting down the line, if you don't mind getting wet.
Cost of systems ranges from $300 to $500 per acre.
The K-Line system is available in the Yakima Valley from Akland Pump and Irrigation, with information on its website at www.aklandpump.com/. Information is also available at the K-Line website, www.k-linena.com/
By RICHARD BURGER Freelance Writer (Reprinted from an article in the Capital Press)
Friday, June 03, 2005