Did you realise that your septic tank system contains a living, breathing community of helpful organisms?

All too often we see our process of waste disposal – flushing things down the sink or toilet, as being a straightforward process that simply sends things we don’t want around any more down a drain to some far away place where it will be dealt with.

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Getting the right amount of moisture to each paddock on your property to ensure grass grows well and property doesn’t scour or erode from uncontrolled water runoff is the holy grail of New Zealand farmers.

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Designing an irrigation system for hill country – no matter what part of the world you are in, requires a different set of considerations due to changes in elevation, slopes and topography.

G-set hill irrigation

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K-Line irrigation

Behind the success of any irrigation scheme, large or small, is the ability to maintain a constant water pressure. Both low and high pressure systems can be severely compromised by air in the pipelines or a vacuum behind water. To mitigate these problems RX Plastics offer pressure release valves for your irrigation system. Continue reading

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As mid-winter approaches, management of excess surface water becomes a high priority for those on the land, particularly in areas of heavy traffic such as gateways or around small stream tributaries and waterways.

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How well are you capturing and storing some of that welcome winter rain?

If your farm tanks could do with a refresh, drop by and chat to our team at this year’s Mystery Creek Fieldays in Hamilton.

As usual you’ll find us on Stand D83-85 from June 15 – 18.

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Ponding and surface waterIt’s been a long summer in most of New Zealand, but as winter starts to approach and rainfall increases, it’s time to think about drainage and how to manage excess surface water. Continue reading

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To the untrained eye, irrigation is just a question of applying water on to land to allow crops or pasture to grow.

However, in reality it’s not that simple; there are a number of variables, including climatic conditions and soil types, which greatly affect efficiency. Continue reading

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K-Line™ One PackIf you’ve ever passed a paddock of pod irrigators and wondered if there was a way that you could have something similar for your garden, we’ve got some good news; Introducing the K-Line™ One Pack. Continue reading

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For years winemakers have looked to stainless steel or concrete tanks for storing wines, but the industry has started demanding a more flexible cost-effective alternative.

RX Plastics has always prided itself on coming up with innovative new products and our new range of polyethylene Wine Tanks has been created to meet this demand.

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water restrictions sign, rainwaterWhilst much of New Zealand has been spared a totally torrid summer thanks to recent rain, conditions are still dry out there, particularly in the east. With the threat of water restrictions still looming for late summer, many are considering rain water harvesting to help with both potable and domestic irrigation water supplies.

RX Plastics Water Tanks

RX Plastics are able to meet this demand in lifestyle and rural situations with its range of MAX™ Tanks but in smaller domestic applications the Metro range of tanks offer a compact yet capacious solution. Continue reading

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Dry Lake Bed, Lake OpuhaThe El Nino phenomenon was originally recognised by South American fisherman who noticed warmer waters in the Pacific, usually around the end of the year. They named it ‘El Nino’ – the Little Boy – after the tendency for the pattern to arrive around Christmas. As we approach the festive season, once again New Zealand is in the grip of a strong El Nino, one that is set to match that of 1997-8. Continue reading

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RX-plastics-troughsAs the end of the year rolls around, the heat starts to ramp up, particularly down here on the edge of the Canterbury Plains.

With precious little natural moisture coming down from above, down on the farm we look to our water reserves to keep our pastures and stock happy.

Getting water supply to livestock is one thing, but being able to deliver it effectively requires tough, durable troughs that are not only able to deal with extremes in weather, but also capable of dealing with knocks from large animals. After all horses, cows, sheep, deer and even buffalo aren’t known for their table manners! Continue reading

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With lambing already happening in some parts of the country and calving about to start in the next couple of weeks, colostrum production will soon be in full swing. This amazing substance is vital to the good health of your young livestock, so we’ve put together a fact file for your reference.

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A well cared-for, productive orchard can be a thing of great beauty as well as a source of food and possible income. As fruit trees are generally long-lived, it makes sense to plan and plant your orchard properly so that you can enjoy its benefits for many years.

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I never really gave much thought to the culvert under our driveway until the winter of 2012, the first on our block. Ewan was working overseas, I was looking after the farm by myself and we’d had a massive amount of rainfall.

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All the old-timers in the Nelson Lakes area, where I live, are predicting a harsh winter this year.

They’re saying the conditions are ripe for a repeat of the Polar Event of early June 2008, when the power was off for 10 days and everyone packed the contents of their freezers in the metre-deep snow.

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Autumn can be a very productive time on the farm. The mild days are great for working outside and – assuming there’s some rain – soil temperatures are still warm enough for a burst of pasture growth. This is known as the “autumn flush”.

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It might seem odd to talk about the problem of too much water when a large part of the country has been in drought for months but the two aren’t necessarily incompatible. Bad drainage is often a soil issue (and sometimes a topography issue), so even the driest, most drought-afflicted paddocks can still turn into bogs after rain.

If your land doesn’t drain well, you probably have a high water table and/or a heavy, clay-based soil. Clay particles are extremely small and very fine. There’s not much air between them, so there’s very little available space for water to penetrate.  That’s why clay soils take a long time to drain. The up-side is that these soils retain moisture longer in dry months.

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There are never enough hours in a day on a lifestyle property, especially if you have to give a large chunk of those hours to an employer off-site.

This can make it tough when the farming calendar is demanding that something be done right now but the boss has other ideas.

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Images of the fast-spreading fires which recently wreaked havoc in parts of New Zealand and Australia are a sobering reminder of the extreme danger of fires this time of year.

In order to ensure you minimize the risk of a fire destroying your property it is best that you have a protection plan. You should also pay attention to the alerts and notices on the New Zealand Fire Service and National Rural Fire Authority websites.

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With large parts of New Zealand teetering on the brink of drought and lobby groups calling for action on long-term prevention and mitigation, this summer is shaping up to be very stressful for many Kiwi farmers.

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There’s no doubt that summer has well and truly arrived, even here at the northern end of the Southern Alps.

NIWA’s seasonal climate outlook is predicting near normal rainfall across the country and that’s great news for anyone reliant on rainwater to fill their water tanks.

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If you’re setting up a lifestyle block, you’ll need to buy stuff, at least in the beginning. Be prepared to spend money. Even if you don’t want to. Even if you don’t have any. Unless you’ve got unlimited time and resources, it’s unavoidable. The best approach is to be clever about what you buy and canny about how much you spend.

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The worst drinking water I’ve ever tasted came out of the taps in the Outback mining town in Western Australia where we lived for eight years.

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If you’re thinking of acquiring a lifestyle block, getting some livestock, keeping chooks and growing your own food, congratulations. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and I hope it turns out to be that way for you too. But be warned: it’s a heck of a challenge.

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Our water comes from a stream flowing through our property. It’s piped to two tanks — a 1,000 litre break tank and a combined break/header tank — and then gravity-fed to our livestock troughs and our house.

The great advantage of a gravity-fed supply is that you’re not reliant on a pump. If you live in a region that often suffers severe weather and the attendant risk of power cuts, not being dependent on a pump is a very good thing.

Gravity-fed system - break tanks

The main disadvantage of our gravity-fed system is the potential vulnerability of the source to drought, logging activities and earthquake damage, but none of these have happened so far and the stream has served us well.

If you’re thinking of installing a gravity-fed system from a dam or a stream, here’s what you should take into account: Continue reading

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The 23rd of September, marked one of the most important days in our personal farming calendar: the Spring Equinox.

From now on, with days longer than nights, everything – including our pasture, we hope – will really start cranking.

spring comes late here

Spring comes late here!

Our growing season up in the mountains is short, so we have to do everything we can to make the most of it. Continue reading

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Portable electric fencing and a portable water trough are two of the most useful – and least expensive – pieces of farming kit we own.

We bought the trough for the sheep yards and the fencing because we could afford it at the time and figured it would come in handy.

They were both sensible buys but it took a “real” farmer to get us out of our townie mindset and show us how useful our portable stuff could actually be.

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Like everything we tackle on our lifestyle block, setting up the tunnel house has been a process of trial and error.

It’s dragged on a bit, with bursts of frenzied activity alternating with long lulls as other projects have taken priority.

It’s still not finished but I’m hoping we’ll get it completed by mid-spring.

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Excellent feedback continues to flow about the ground-breaking G-Set irrigation solution, with a number of South Island farms reaping the benefits in what has been a relatively dry winter so far.

The product was a finalist in Irrigation NZ’s innovation awards, reflecting the unique nature of the solution and its effectiveness in solving irrigation challenges for hilly properties.

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Our chooks get more cosseting than all the other livestock on our farm combined. They repay us with enormous brown eggs and lots of laughs.

On the production side, we have 10 Brown Shaver hens and two pullets just coming into lay. The hens play with a handsome young Light Sussex rooster called Rocky and absolutely dote on him.

Rocky the Light Sussex rooster

Rocky the Magnificent

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If you’d asked me six years ago about the ingredients of a perfect weekend, I’d have listed partying, camping in the Outback, or a combination of the two.

Fast-forward to the weekend just gone, which we spent digging holes, moving bushes and planting Japanese fodder willows in freezing rain (Saturday) and heavy frost (Sunday). It was one of the most satisfying and productive weekends I’ve had all year.*

We’re trialling 60 of these willows as a feed source for our stock. If they grow well, we’ll plant another 300 next year.

Fodder willow cuttings ready for planting Continue reading

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I lived in the tropics for ten years before I realised that I quite like winter.

I’m talking about real winter here: bare trees, howling south-westerly gales and frosty air so sharp that the contents of your nose freeze solid.

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Wiltshire sheep shed their own fleece. Back when we bought our block and I was researching sheep breeds, that alone was enough to convince me we should give polled (hornless) Wiltshires a go.

The remnants of last year's fleece

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On Sunday 11 May, we reintroduced Spidey the ram to his 10 girls with the expectation that hot lovin’ would ensue. The official farming term for the hot lovin’ process as it applies to sheep is ‘tupping’.

Spidey and Friend

Spidey and Friend

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Of all the projects, animals and sustainable philosophies that we’ve got going on at our farm, nothing piques people’s interest as much as our saffron growing.

There’s a mystique about the world’s most expensive spice, even if it is just a collection of dried stigmas from a little autumn-flowering crocus.

Everything about saffron seems exotic – its history, vibrant colour, honey-like aroma and distinctive taste. Continue reading

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When we moved onto our block in 2011, we weren’t too worried about water security.

Our supply was stream-fed, so we figured we were less vulnerable than our rainwater-dependent neighbours.

stream irrigation

Then someone pointed out that streams sometimes dry up. Their courses can alter after earthquakes.

And hey, didn’t we have a eucalyptus woodlot right next door to a neighbour’s Douglas fir plantation? Continue reading

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How can you tell that the people who’ve bought the farmlet down the road don’t have a clue what they’re doing? When the first livestock unit they buy is a bull.

Hamish the bull

Yep, that was us in early 2012. We were the proud owners of 25 hectares of marginal land in a “very high” wind area at 700 metres in the Nelson Lakes area.

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If you are living on or considering a move to a farm or rural lifestyle property, at some point you will need to address the issue of household waste.

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The dream of walking away from a stifling corporate world to the freedom and wide open spaces of a rural small holding or lifestyle property is one that is definitely not new, but is now perhaps more feasible than ever with the help of technology and a turn towards locally grown, organic produce.

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In the peak of summer when water restrictions come into place and the garden takes a dramatic turn for the worse, having your own water supply is a definite bonus.

And if you have ever had the misfortune to be in a location affected by any kind of natural disaster that disrupts your water supply, once again, having your own tanks of usable water is a godsend.

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Household water consumption can vary dramatically depending on how many people are living in the property, what appliances you own and how often you use them.

The table below gives you a guide for how much each activity or appliance will consume in a single use.

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Water is a finite resource and demand for it continues to increase, so it’s important to the running of any farming or horticultural enterprise that this precious commodity is used efficiently with minimal waste.

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National Field Days give farmers and those in the rural sector the opportunity to see the latest and most exciting advances in agricultural technology and innovation in New Zealand.

This year RX Plastics will be attending two Field Days, the Central Districts Field Days event in Feilding from 7-9 March and South Island Agricultural Field Days at Lincoln University Farm from 20-23 March. We’ll be found at Stall F18-21 in Feilding and Stalls 520-521 at Lincoln. Continue reading

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Our K-Line irrigation technology is the perfect irrigation system for farmlets, pastures, sports fields and parks.

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RX Plastics has created a solution which both deals with your domestic waste water and sewage and means you can contribute in a positive way to conservation of your environment.

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At RX we are now distributing wireless pump water controller and tank water level indicator systems created and produced by Auckland company Smart Water. The perfect accompaniment to our Max Tanks, smart is definitely the appropriate name for these systems – this highly advanced water management technology provides the ultimate solution for monitoring and managing your tank water.

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We are proud to announce what we’ve had in the pipeline! We’ve recently undergone the most extensive product development period in our company’s history. Launched at the recent Mystery Creek Fieldays, our new range of nearly 120 pipe irrigation fittings is our biggest yet.

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RX Plastics are committed to work with and support the local community in a variety of ways.

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