Playing the fields

The All Blacks may not have made it to the Rugby World Cup final last year, but Kiwi technology was still winner at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium at that final.
Keeping the grounds in good nick was world beating irrigation management system called Aquaflex, developed out of joint venture with Streat Instruments and Lincoln Ventures, with an investment from the Foundation for Science, Research and Technology.
Lincoln Ventures spent several years researching dielectric methods for measuring soil moisture content.
The sensor developed as result of this research measures the soil moisture content along the length of three metre cable, and overcomes the problem of spatial variation in soil moisture.
Field trials were held in Victoria, Australia, where farmers need to accurately predict water require-ments and order from an irrigation scheme five days in advance.
These trials were such success that Lincoln Ventures formed the venture with Streat Instru-ments, manufacturer that could commercialise the product.
The Aquaflex system has potential for cricket pitches and race tracks, and there’s talk of moisture measurement being mandatory for all race tracks in Britain.
It’s also been trialed at some of England’s most prestigious football stadiums such as Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Leeds United’s Elland Road.
The Aquaflex system is now in commercial production with sales in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Europe and the USA. “There is genuine need for accurate moisture measurement,” says Streats technical manager, Steve Krenek.
“The world is fast waking up to the fact that water is its most precious resource, and governments in most developed countries are establishing best practices to minimise wastage and environmental damage through excessive irrigation.
“The ability to measure moisture has been, until now, the missing link in economical and sustainable irrigation.”

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