Gary Wight - Wight's Dairy - Cohuna, Victoria, Australia

Key Stats: 

  • Grower - Gary Wight
  • Location - Cohuna, VIC Australia
  • Crops and/or stock - Dairy cows and irrigated summer pasture
  • Property size - 800 acres
  • Jain Logic - Irrigation Scheduling and Soil Moisture Monitoring. In 2017 Observant was acquired by Jain Irrigation, Inc, read all about it here.

Gary Wight used to spend 2 - 3 days a week irrigating his land, a lot of the work occurring through the night and requiring him to be on hand at all hours to ensure irrigation events occurred as planned. Employing extra labor to assist in irrigation could not be justified, as labour costs outweighed the returns gained over the season. The alternative, was to invest in farm automation technology, that would reduce labor costs, send 24/7 alerts to Gary and provide peace of mind by logging into an app on his mobile to check on his system. 

 Gary Wight, owner at Wight's Dairy 

Gary Wight, owner at Wight's Dairy 

“A lot of the work, as far as watering goes, goes through the night as well, the wheels don’t stop. So the employees go home, so it’s left for me and a farm, this size, means you’re irrigating quite a lot.”
— Gary Wight, owner at Wight's Dairy

Major benefits seen at Wight's farm included an overall increase of 10% in productivity in farm operations growth in pasture yield by watering when plants required, significant time savings during the work week, allowing better use of labor across the farm, improving labor efficiencies and reducing input costs. Most significantly being able to automate irrigation activities allowed Gary to spend more time with his family, go to off-site events, football matches and get a full night's rest. Also being able to schedule irrigation around the dairy cows, meant they didn't go around in wet paddocks, allowing Gary to irrigate and skip bays as required. 

Irrigation scheduling had benefits that spread over the week and the weekend for Gary, checking his Observant Global portfolio every 3 - 4 days, direct from his phone, knowing that if the first 2 or 3 scheduled bays are working as set up, the rest will function as expected too. 

 Gary shows the ease of selecting bays to schedule irrigation events around. 

Gary shows the ease of selecting bays to schedule irrigation events around. 

“We have a map of our farm, we just click on the bay that we want to irrigate and then the next one you want to irrigate - click on it, and it just makes a timeline along the bottom. It’s very easy.

Very easy, very good and very simple to use.”
— Gary Wight, owner at Wight's Dairy

A benefit Gary didn't see coming was the results from the soil moisture probe readings. Gary realised he had been watering too often, at every 9 days. The soil moisture readings showed quite clearly that the soil stayed waterlogged for up to 4 days after irrigation occurred. Pushing irrigation back to every 11 days (without stressing the plant) he was able to gain 2 extra days for each irrigation event that occurred. Across the season this provided a full rotation of feed, with about 30 days, give or take, of extra feed that he would of otherwise missed out on and on top of that the costs he saved on water inputs.  

 Soil Moisture monitoring readings showed irrigation needed to occur less frequently and water costs could be reduced. 

Soil Moisture monitoring readings showed irrigation needed to occur less frequently and water costs could be reduced. 

“Now, that we’ve got an automated system (that) runs all the night it means I don’t have to get up, weekends I’ve got free and even structurally if I’ve got a meeting on...

...I can go, knowing that it’s going to operate on its own in the background.”
— Gary Wight, owner at Wight's Dairy

Key Takeaways: 

  • Reduce labour costs, save time and improve productivity by scheduling irrigation events
  • Irrigate according to soil readings, to improve pasture production and reduce water costs
  • Automate your farm and you'll not only save time but have peace of mind knowing your farm is running as it should, by checking on an app from your mobile
  • Time is one of the most valuable resources you have, invest in freeing up more of it