One of the most impressive machines at NAMPO this year was the Case IH Quadtrac ‘Tile Plow’ drainage unit on the Agri Drainage stand
Joe Spencer reports:
Agri Drainage was using one of its three Quadtrac and ‘Tile Plow’ combinations to publicise the fact that the company has installed more than one million metres of subsurface drainage pipes in South Africa
The Case IH Quadtrac 600 and Tile Plow combination at NAMPO
To be sustainable today’s farmers have to maximise production and minimise risks and one of the ways to do this is to ensure that the lands are properly drained. Agri Drainage follows a holistic approach, analysing the field as a whole and presenting solutions that include land forming, to prevent ponding, contour and waterway building to assist surface drainage, land levelling for effective water utilisation, subsurface drainage to prevent water logging, water table management to optimise the use of rainfall and subsurface irrigation; in other words, a complete solution for water management on the farm.
Farmers Jaro and Stephan Geldenhuys, the owners of Agri Drainage, noticed a substantial increase in yields when subsurface drainage was installed in certain of their fields. Noting the prohibitively high cost of installing drainage systems with the methods in use in South Africa at that time they decided to take a trip to the USA to research more cost effective systems and subsequently formed the Agri Drainage Company
The ‘Tile Plow’ in operation
The latest model ‘Tile Plows’ working with Trimble RTK GPS control systems, operating to an accuracy of less than 20mm, and modern drainage design technology enables the creation of a customised solution and an effective drainage system. This entails an in-depth survey of the client’s land conducted by Agri Drainage experts. Then, a detailed plan for subsurface drainage is formulated, this is discussed with the client who can decide to proceed with the plan as a whole or do it in phases. Once the strategy is agreed upon the installation begins. This involves the placing of perforated pipe at a specified grade or slope, buried at a suitable depth below the soil surface to prevent fields becoming water logged
The “Tile Plow’ places the pipe below the surface
When compared to traditional methods, subsurface drainage installed the Agri Drainage way is a lot more cost and time effective. Once installation begins, a single ‘Tile Plow’ unit can install anything between 4 000 and 10 000 metres per day at a current cost of about R60.00 per metre.
Drainage is not a ‘Quick fix’!
Agri Drainage focuses on providing accurate, transparent and detailed advice to every client. Drainage is not a quick fix and should last for generations. The Company gives a two-year guarantee on sub-surface drainage, which has a life expectancy of 150 years
Accurate planning is the key
Differing gradients in a field can lead to unwanted water infiltration, ponding and run-off. Effective management of water on the land eliminates these factors and leads to better yields and higher income. In the past this was achieved by ‘Land Levelling’ where land is levelled to a uniform set grade. This process is extremely costly due to the large amounts of soil being moved. The new, more cost effective way of surface drainage is referred to as ‘Land Forming’. This modern approach uses software that formulates a 4D design to achieve the same results while moving just a fraction of the earth. Infiltration rate tests help determine water flow, which helps with more accurate planning. A more efficient design results in only the necessary earthworks. The amount of topsoil that is removed can be managed to a greater extent. The process includes compacting soil when moving it, providing more sustainable results.