Agricultural Irrigation Installation Cost

June 2021

Farm or Agricultural irrigation installation can be used in a broad range of settings to help farmers increase efficiency and production. Agriculture broadly refers to the science and cultivation of farming crops as well as raising animals/livestock for farming. Typically, agricultural farming is done on a large scale with quite large parcels of farmland. The approaches used in agricultural irrigation also broadly apply to horticultural farming. With each approach there are various levels of irrigation available to the farmer and the cost of irrigation installation varies accordingly.

Due to the large-scale nature of agricultural farming, innovative irrigation systems have been developed specifically for agriculture and to help farmers with efficient watering solutions.

For example, one mungbean farmer needed to find more efficient ways to irrigate their mungbean crop. The team at Think Water was able to help them design an agricultural irrigation system that had minimum impact on their crops and increased water efficiency. After careful preparation and trenching to bring power to the site, they installed Nelson sprinklers on their aluminum centre pivot. More details about this particular case study can be found here.

Another example relates to a winegrower who needed to develop centralised, competitive farm watering solutions to increase productivity and allow for future expansion. After the initial planning with Think Water, the project was completed in two stages: stage one focused on bringing automation and remote control, while stage two added extra field valves with remote access that didn’t require cabling. This allowed for automated dam filling and ultimately allowed for all irrigation water to come from the dam – an obvious improvement in efficiency. Specific details about this project can be found here.

Any farm watering solution requires the farmer to pick and choose irrigation products that are best suited to the terrain of their farm, the climate and water availability, and the scale of their agriculture. More importantly, the irrigation system needs to make life easier for farmers and increase productivity. Often when farmers come in to speak to us the first thing they ask us is, “How much would it cost to . . . .?” On talking to them further, we discover that they are really trying to balance the initial investment cost with the expected increase in production and productivity they can expect to achieve through installing an agricultural irrigation system.

There are various levels of irrigation available to farmers and the cost of installation varies depending on the features included. The choice really depends on which products will improve the bottom line. Often farmers will start with an entry level of irrigation to keep initial installation costs low and upgrade it as their budget allows. Those products used in entry level systems are generally able to be used in midrange and premium systems as well. This means the cost of installing an irrigation system can be staged to correspond with the budget. The team at Think Water will be able to help you develop a staged plan to expand and improve your farm’s irrigation system.

To help you understand the types of products you might need for you irrigation project, we have listed typical products and brands you might use:

Entry Level Agricultural Irrigation Systems

At this level, the irrigation system requires more hands-on work and labour costs to deliver water when and where you need it. Keep in mind it can be added to later.

You will typically need:

  • Some sort of pump to move the water, possibly an engine drive or basic electric centrifugal pump that operates with a standard on/off switch. However, this will depend on the scale of the irrigation project. These products would typically be sourced from Davey; Grundfos, or 43 South.
  • Usually some sort of basic manual clean disc or mesh filtration sourced by Netafim or Amiad.
  • Some sort of water dispersal may include T-tape, drip tube, or under tree micro-sprinklers, pod systems or impact sprinklers, etc. These are sourced from Netafim or WSP.
  • Rural or Green poly to transport the water to the emitters usually sourced through Iplex, RX Plastics, or PipeMakers.

Midrange Agricultural Irrigation Systems

Various degrees of automation can be added at this level with consideration given to complimentary drip irrigation systems.

You will typically need:

  • A pump that is set up as either a pressure pump (on demand) or a pump controlled through a basic automated 7-day timer system. Usually sourced from Grundfos, Davey, or 43 South.
  • A pre-filter and maybe media filter to help remove solid particles from the water, usually sourced through Netafim, Parkland, or Amiad.
  • Water dispersal system through emitters such as T-tape; drip tube; under tree sprinklers; pivots; laterals usually sourced through Netafim, WSP, or Valley.
  •  An automated control system that controls the pump and works in conjunction with electrical valves to open and close on request from the control system, usually sourced through Mait or Netafim.
  • PVC pipe or poly pipe to transport the water to the desired locations Iplex, RX Plastics, or PipeMakers.

Premium Agricultural Irrigation Systems

At this level full automation is usually used, typically with sensors, controllers and remote access. Subsurface systems are also typical at this level of irrigation to allow for precision watering and filtration and increased water efficiency.

You will typically need:

  • A pump that may be electric; petrol or solar-powered (bores; dams; tanks) wired into a fully automated pump control system with protection and reporting capabilities on run times, faults, water volume pumped, and all connected via wifi. Usually sourced through Grundfos or Davey.
  •  A water monitoring system that understands and measures water availability and quality while providing forecasting based on weather patterns back to a central control piece of software, usually sourced through The Yabby.
  • A weather station that monitors wind/rain/heat connects back to the central automated controller to override the irrigation schedule if required, usually sourced through WSP, Parkland, or Netafim.
  • Fully automatic filters that clean on demand and a media/gravel or large disc filtration system that monitors pressure and flow to ensure the system works effectively at delivering the right amount of clean water. Usually sourced through Netafim or Amiad.
  • Fully automated valves to control pressure, flow, and the release of air into the atmosphere to ensure correct operation and delivery of water.
  • A dosing system that is able to dose the crops or stock with the required chemicals to ensure a healthy crop usually sourced through WSP.
  • Soil sensors with satellite connectivity to monitor the “dryness” of the soil and turn on the system ensuring the correct amount of water is delivered when needed, usually sourced through Netafim.
  • A form of emitter like drip tube, under tree sprinklers, traveling irrigators, or large above crop impact sprinklers made by Netafim, WSP, or Valley.
  • Water metering to monitor flow/usage and ensure the correct amount of water is being dispensed onto the crop, usually supplied by WSP.
  • PVC pipe or large bore poly pipe to transport the water to the desired locations supplied by Iplex, RX Plastics, or PipeMakers.

As you can see, there are many ways to approach agricultural irrigation. If you have a specific problem you want to address or you are working towards a productivity goal, please have a chat with us to explore ways we can help you. We firmly believe that with careful planning and using quality, reliable products we can work with you to achieve the right approach for your property. To find the closest Think Water agricultural irrigation expert please visit our handy store finder.