21 Dec 2015

Solar invention pumps water uphill

8:31 pm on 21 December 2015

A solar water pump system that helps get much-needed water to stock on remote hill country farms has captured international interest.

The proposed Ruataniwha Dam would be built on this site in Hawke's Bay.

Hawke's Bay farmers need to get water to hill country stock. Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

Isaacs Pumping & Electrical in Central Hawke's Bay has been developing the technology over the past two years with support from Callaghan Innovation.

Director Gavin Streeter said the firm was continually being asked by farmers for ways of reliably getting water to stock without electricity, especially in remote hill country properties.

"Solar was the ideal alternative, but we needed to ensure we had a motor and pump that farmers could rely on to keep stock troughs full. We didn't need to look too far and we selected a pump with a proven track record that has been servicing farms for over 50 years."

Callaghan Innovation funding helped develop the controller or "brain" - a circuit board that optimises the use of solar power and monitors water pressure and run times and logs faults.

"The system is fully automatic, it operates like a standard pumping system and we have just designed some clever features to maximise the pumping time and protect the motor," Mr Streeter said.

He said the firm had ramped up production due to farmers preparing for El Niño drought conditions, and also had been approached by people outside the country.

"We have interest from a South African company that supports community aid projects. We see significant export potential for the pump but presently we have been inundated with farmer interest."