Of Water, Spuds And Stock: Wilson’S Produce And Isuzu Power Solutions
Born and bred in the Central Highlands Tasmanian town of Mount Seymour, right on the 530 hectares the family has been making a living from, Grant Wilson is a fifth-generation farmer and keeping with the family business. On the surface, one might say that the Wilson family are potato farmers, but they’re certainly more than just that—and that’s not just another cliché.
Yielding a 1,200-tonne seed contract of Ranger Russet potatoes to Simplot Australia, the mighty potato may be the trophy winner for Wilson’s Produce, but the Wilson family runs an uncommonly diverse property that also includes the farming of 1,000 sheep, 1,600 lambs and 70 head of cattle. This means the farm pulls in wool and meat sales alongside their staple potato income. In addition to all of that, Grant also grows market-fresh potatoes.
“That’s sort of where our farm started, we used to wash potatoes here and grow around 600–700 tonnes just for the fresh market,” shared Grant.
With such a diverse portfolio, however, one thing remains constant: the need for water. One of the main aims for the farm was to self-sufficiently feed all the animals on site. To do this the Wilsons need water—and lots of it. Getting adequate water to the farm was a problem, and so they looked towards Isuzu Power Solutions (IPS) to help with this.
Although Grant can’t control the weather—surely the desire of every Australian farmer—he can now control the daily amount of water being supplied to the farm’s crops and stock, with help from IPS in the form of an open configuration GS013ENN Generator Set (GenSet) and the 6BG1QWPU10 engine fitted with a water pump.
The GenSet is powered by an Isuzu 3CE1BGZG1 power unit driving a Mecc Alte ECP33L4 alternator, and together with the 6BG1 pump unit that features the ComAp Pro control panel (coupled with a 3G/4G-enabled remote communications unit), the Wilson farm’s IPS tools are the pumping hearts of their irrigation solution.
Prior to this, the Wilson farm had in 2014 signed on with the ambitious Midlands Water Scheme, which would see water piped out from the reservoir at Arthur’s Lake to nearby agricultural districts. The Wilsons also invested heavily in the Farm Water Access Plan, which allows water to be piped to the dam situated on the farm.
Grant said, “It was a huge financial outlay for something that wasn’t guaranteed at the time… but it has definitely paid off.
“Before this, it was pretty dire when we ran out of water.
“We used to get about 24 inches of rain a year, but we just don’t get the guaranteed rainfall that we used to.”
Having sufficient water is a perennial worry for every farmer. And ensuring that their crops and stock receive the appropriate amount of water for everchanging weather conditions is hard work. But the Wilson farm’s GenSet is fitted with an Eco Control Panel that can be easily operated from Grant’s smartphone, allowing him remote operator access to the GenSet at any time.
“I can control the GenSet and the pump unit using my iPhone, I just hit the start button and the generator will kick it all off, turning the water on.
“You can program it for different rates of flow, times of day, different days.
“It’s been very handy being able to finetune the different programs, and I don’t have to physically drive to each of the generators to turn them on.”
Particularly suited to the application at hand, the IPS GenSet with a power rating of 13.5 kVA @ 1,500 rpm was an easy choice for the Wilsons, as was the 6BG1 pump unit.
“We had quotes on all the generators from different brands, but Isuzu was the one that suited us best,” said Grant.
“We’ve had Isuzu down from Melbourne three times already… the customer and technical services have been fantastic.”
Like all Isuzu products, reliability is at the core of any IPS power solution. With farming, generators and pumps alike bear a heavy responsibility; the harsh reality is that if irrigation fails, crops and animals perish. But with the IPS power units, Grant said that they haven’t let the farm down.
“They’re great, they sit here and run for 24 hours a day and we don’t have any issues with them.
“When you’re putting so much fertiliser and seed into the ground at a big cost, you need to able to guarantee something… and these units guarantee the water is supplied when it’s needed.”
And in particular, the 6BG1 pump unit inspires confidence, especially when you’re situated on a farm in a remote location. Paired with a 10-bar pressure transducer for additional monitoring capabilities, this pump unit not only keeps going but is also relied on to feed Grant the information he needs.
Grant explained, “Being in such a remote location, we do sometimes worry if the information is going to comes through… But the great thing is it always does.”
With the confidence to implement innovation where it’s needed and know that it can be relied on to work, even in uncertain weather conditions, Grant is positive about the future.
Grant said, “Apart from the weather, it’s a good time to be farming.”
“The world’s pretty hungry and we can produce a lot of food here, there’s a big demand for Tassie produce.”