Million-metre Turf Master Joe pivots to the future

Water Dynamics

A Victorian turf industry leader, Big River Instant Turf, is expanding its production with low-maintenance irrigation to cater for rising demand for its product from some of the State’s fastest-growing urban areas.

The family-owned company, directed by Joe Erceg, saw the future for clean/green product more than 20 years ago when he switched from growing broccoli to becoming a leader in the Australian turf industry, now producing more than a million sq metres annually.

“Growth of the natural turf industry is a good thing environmentally, because even the average Australian garden lawn will provide more oxygen than the world’s biggest tree,” says Joe, whose 120-hectare (300 acre) property in Bacchus Marsh is close to major urban expansion occurring in Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong and Warrnambool.

“Real natural turf does a favour to the whole environment, as well as being aesthetically pleasing. We like to say we are bringing back the great Aussie backyard, with healthy lush lawns that are a breath of fresh air for increasing crowded urban environments,” said Joe, who is expanding his business using a low-maintenance, centre-pivot T-L irrigation system from Water Dynamics.

The new pivot project, using four pivots covering a total of 77.2 hectares, utilises easy-to-use hydraulic drive T-L irrigation systems extensively proven in broad-acre farming in their native US and in more than 1000 T-L brand systems installed by Water Dynamics in Australia over more than 30 years.

Water Dynamics’ Paul Moat says one of the benefits of hydraulic systems is that they employ hydraulic technology that is already very familiar to horticulturalists and farmers so they can be easier and less hazardous to service.

Hydrostatically powered T-L systems are designed to deliver continuous movement, so gearbox wear is drastically reduced, due to the absence of electrically driven system’s stop-start operation. In addition, water and fertilisers are evenly distributed over the crop.

T-L systems deliver the best, most consistent water pattern available, says Paul, who has worked closely with Joe to deliver an optimum way to rapidly and reliably expand his output.

“Joe originally purchased the farm at Bacchus Marsh and set it up to grow broccoli with a fixed sprinkler system. He then decided to convert the farm to grow turf, using the fixed sprays.

“After years of irrigating this way and with expansion of the business, he decided it was too hard a job changing over valves, etc, so he researched pivot irrigators and decided to go with Water Dynamics and T-L because of our reputation in the turf marketplace and the constant-move feature of the TL system.”

System details

  • Application rate = 8mm per pass, usually overnight.
  • Sprinklers = Nelson S3000 and SR100 boosted end gun
  • Panel = Precision point control (3)
  • Power supply = Isuzu diesel engines with Macquarie Auto start panel
  • Remote telemetry = Agsense Precision link system (pivots can be controlled from Agsense app on the phone or Agsense website)
  • Pivot lengths are 255mts, 245mts, 350mts and 180mts

The areas around the pivot circle still use the original fixed sprinkler system and Joe Erceg has also added some Nelson Big guns to cover other areas not covered by the new and existing systems.

Paul Moat says a beauty of the new system is that hydraulics are integral to all farms’ fixed and mobile plant, so maintenance isn’t a more expensive specialist business.

“Farmers and horticulturalists don’t usually have to call out a specialist electrician or other tradesman each time something needs maintenance, which can be a money-saver. Rugged reliability, simplicity, and efficient distribution of water and fertiliser are key to the system adopted by Joe.”

Big River Turf prides itself on delivering lush turf using microbiological and granular fertilser.

“The aim of our turf operations is to increase plant yields and promote greater efficiency and sustainability for our clients. And sustainability is a quality which is increasing important to our markets, which range from individual homes right up to major local authorities, sports grounds, and urban developers.

He also rotates crops on different parts of his farm to enhance soil condition, growing mustard and garlic seed, for example, and bolstering soil condition with natural chicken manure and gypsum.

Paul Moat says it is important to each project as unique and design and install each system based on it’s the customer’s specific needs, such as Joe Erceg’s productivity and sustainability of water practices.

“Our local Water Dynamics team here in Yarrawonga VIC – and major branches in Mildura, VIC, Darwin, NT, Longford, TAS, and Mt Gambier, SA – includes a blend of product experts, irrigation designers and installers. Our staff are very well known in the industry and some have previously even owned and operated their own landscaping and irrigation businesses.

“We pride ourselves on good old-fashioned customer service so you know you’ll get the personal attention you’re looking for when you work with us on a project, or come into store. Our unique regional focus means we understand local conditions and challenges, and have the relevant skills to provide the right products and technical advice to keep irrigation systems operating at peak efficiency all year round.

Joe Erceg said he first heard about Water Dynamics from local business suppliers and local farmers who had good experiences with them. “They were easy to deal with during the installation and then always helpful afterwards when routine items were required.

“Paul always gets back to us straight away when we need something – we know we can rely on his team to keep the system working very economically and reliably.”

Paul Moat says irrigation support doesn’t stop when the installation is complete “This is a dynamic business, a dynamic technology, in which updates and service are important to local farmers, such as Joe in particular.

“Service and word-of-mouth counts for a lot in close-knit communities, and it wonderful to have the respect of industry leaders such as Joe Erceg.”

About us:

For more than 30 years, Water Dynamics has been Irrigating Australia. We provide irrigation and water management solutions to homes and gardens, dairy farms, paddocks, broadacre crops, horticulture crops, and football fields across Australia. As the world’s driest inhabited continent, irrigation in Australia is vital for the sustainability of our water and food supply, our health, and the long-term sustainability of our export market.

/Public Release.