Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd (ALIL) is a farmer-owned co-operative, which receives its allocation of water from Rangitata Diversion Race Management Ltd.
The co-operative currently delivers water through a network of races and pressurised pipe system to its 244 shareholder members, who collectively farm close to 30,000 hectares west and north of Ashburton.
ALIL General Manager Rebecca Whillans says the Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Scheme was developed in late 1940’s to provide borderdyke irrigation supply via a gravity fed open channel system.
“The scheme was originally designed to provide enough water to irrigate 60% of farmers’ properties which, at that time, was considered to be sufficient,” she says.
“Between 1989 – 1992 the company acquired from the Crown and administered by the Ministry of Works, an Irrigation Scheme comprising open races.”
ALIL was incorporated on 22 September 1989 with farmers subscribing for shares (2/ha) to fund the start-up capital to get the business operational, such as employ staff, buy plant & machinery, and funding easements and water supply agreements.
Rebecca, left, joined ALIL as GM in March 2018 and leads a six-member team including three racemen.
The five-member board of directors includes Andy Grant, right, who joined the board of Cooperative Business NZ in August 2018.
The company’s scheme area is on the northern bank of the north branch of the Ashburton River in the south to the RDR race in the west, down Ledgerwood Road, Line Road & Thomsons Track to Mitcham Road in the north and Somerton and State Highway 1 in the East.
The 244 shareholders hold a total of 1,204,142 shares, with a water allocation of 12,041.42 litres per second.
Land use over time has continued to change. Currently 44% is applied to Dairy, 23% Dairy Support, 17% Arable, 14% Sheep & Beef and 1% Other. ALIL predominately has medium to light soils.
Spray irrigation has been used in Ashburton Lyndhurst for at least 30 years, but recent times have seen a dramatic shift, from borderdyke, with efficiencies constantly improving. The latest systems designed to apply water with millimetre accuracy to meet the plants’ requirements with use of soil moisture probes.
ALIL is a Member of both Irrigation NZ and Cooperative Business NZ.