Bringing Water To the World (The Edge Magazine Feature)

Made using quality, corrosion-resistant aluminium tube from BlueScope Distribution, Upton Engineering’s state-of-the-art centre pivot irrigation systems are in great demand not only across Australia but also around the world – with supply for yet another overseas project, this one for a customer in Saudi Arabia, currently in the pipeline.

Founded in 1944 in Corowa, a NSW town on the Murray River, Upton Engineering is a third- generation, family-owned company that has established itself as one of the most versatile and complete manufacturers of agricultural irrigation in Australia.

That’s not surprising when you consider the company’s deep roots in agriculture and the fact that Upton is a household name in
rural Australia as a result of their pioneering developments – first in heavy duty 2-wheel drive tractors and now in their renowned centre pivot irrigation equipment.

Centre pivot irrigation is a method of overhead sprinkler irrigation consisting of multiple sections of pipe joined together to create long spans, with sprinklers positioned along their length, which are supported by trusses and mounted on wheeled towers. Moving in a circular pattern, they are fed with water piped to the pivot point at the centre of the circle, and can be either fixed systems or can be specifically built as a completely moveable system which can be towed from one site to another using a tractor.

With experience unmatched by any other company, Upton Engineering manufactures fixed and towable centre pivot irrigation systems at their two-hectare industrial site in Corowa, producing machines that can irrigate areas from 10 hectares to 60 hectares in size under one ‘circle’.

Dedicated as they are to producing innovative, quality equipment with a service life and warranty exceeding other brands, it’s not surprising that Upton Engineering rely on quality products from BlueScope Distribution to manufacture their premier systems.

Key among these products is the marine grade, corrosion-resistant aluminium pipe, supplied by BlueScope Distribution since 1999, that Upton use to form the backbone of the main span section that carries water out to the sprinklers.

“Around where we live, underground water sometimes has salt in it which is very corrosive on galvanised steel pipes. That means a shorter life span, a faster depreciating asset and more cost to farmers, so we make equipment from superior corrosion-resistant materials and also engineer tailor-made solutions for specific needs, soil types and water conditions,” Paul Upton, managing director, said.

“The fact that we’ve been very successful in using aluminium on what might be termed slightly salty underground water has made our equipment extremely popular across Australia. We distribute machines basically to every state and even as far away as the north west of Western Australia, on the cattle stations, as the cattle market up there is booming because of the live export out of Broome to Asian markets.

“We’ve also recently been approached by another overseas pivot manufacturer to fabricate and supply pipes for their machines for delivery into Northern Africa,” he continued.
“That particular area they’re moving into has saltier water than they’re used to, and their galvanised pipes aren’t successful in that salty water, and that’s one of the reasons why they’ve approached us to fabricate and supply pipes by the container load to that market.”

Supporting Upton Engineering in delivering their highly durable irrigation systems across Australia and the world is the enduring relationship they have with BlueScope Distribution’s nearby Albury branch – and Market Development Manager, Brian Dowling – who supply the company with essential aluminium and steel components and technical advice.

“The aluminium we provide is mainly tube and plate to make their big irrigation systems, and we do supply steel; basically almost everything but the tyres,” Brian said.

“Paul got into aluminium quite a few years ago because it’s lighter, so the machine doesn’t have to work as hard and obviously it doesn’t corrode. To support Upton Engineering, I actually had our aluminium mill manufacture the dies for them, to the size and thickness they needed, and they’ve been held at the mill ever since, ready to supply product as required.

“Paul knows he can call on us at any time for anything Upton requires, because he knows that we’ve got Upton’s interests at heart,” Brian concluded.

“We feel we have a strong partnership with BlueScope Distribution; they’ve always been exceptional to us,” Paul Upton said. “Whether it’s unique product requirements or technical support I know that if I need anything, Brian and the team will do whatever it takes; they definitely look after us.

“Our business has a strong focus on placing customers’ needs first and developing long lasting relationships with them. From our experience, we know BlueScope Distribution is the same and that makes our partnership a very good fit.”

Newsletter November 2017

With an identified preference for consumers and businesses to seek out products that are locally made and supported, Upton Engineering is delighted to announce that we have been granted the right to use the identification of “Australian Made and Owned” on our principal products.

This will be identified by appropriate labels on our Upton centre pivot and linear move irrigators, and on our Irriturf race track irrigators.

The Australian Made campaign has been running for many years and continues to receive a high recall factor in domestic market surveys.

The triangular green and gold logo indicates that products and materials are sourced locally as far as possible.
It also indicates that businesses and products employing the logo support their local communities by providing employment and participation opportunities.

The Australian Made logo has also been shown to have a high recognition factor in export markets indicating a product of quality.


Newsletter September 2017

How much money did your centre pivot irrigator burn last year?

People who know me well know that I love science. Maths and physics in particular. Let’s look at a few facts of physics. I will keep it simple (or, how to save you money the easy way).

Power usage of a pump is derived by a formula that involves the following parameters- Volume of water flow. Operating pressure at the pump and the efficiency of the pump being used. In basic terms, if we double the operating pressure we double the power requirement. If we double the flow, we also double the power requirement.

Whether you are using diesel or electricity the fact remains that power is money! There is always continuing advancements in both pump efficiency and pivot sprinkler head technology.

If your irrigation system is 10 years old or more there is a very good chance that your existing pump is worn and your out of date pivot sprinkler package is costing you money instead of making it for you. A ‘typical’ 400m long pivot irrigator running on a diesel pump for 2000 hrs per year can have a fuel cost of $20-25,000 per year. Wouldn’t you like to reduce that cost by 10-20% ? Savings could be upwards of $50,000 over the next 10 years, per pivot irrigator.

Improving pump efficiency and lowering pump operating pressure will reduce your overall operating costs. I am constantly surprised when I hear of people installing a new pivot system who do not know what their expected operating costs will be. This is a sure sign of an inexperienced irrigation company or sales person. People’s excuses will often be- ‘I got a really good deal’ or- ‘The guy gave me a cheap price on the whole package’.

Purchase price has nothing to do operating costs. The operating cost over 10+ years is where your money is going to be either made or lost. Purchase poorly and it will cost you forever.

Step 1 is accurately knowing what your current power consumption is. If you do not know what your pumping cost is then make it a priority today. It’s never too late to look at money saving changes. Most people work on a value of $ per ML pumped.

Step 2 is to contact us to discuss how much money we can save you going forward.
(feel free to use our contact form or call Glenn on 0418 366 364)

Also, if you haven’t done it yet, download our free Linear Move Irrigation Brochure.

Thanks for reading,

Paul Upton

Upton introduces new Australian designed and manufactured Linear Move Irrigators

Corowa NSW based Upton Irrigation has released a new range of Australian designed and locally manufactured Linear Move Irrigators with extensive features and options that are designed to fulfil a range of applications.

The new Upton Linear Move irrigators are available as a low profile version giving a crop clearance height of 1.8 metres that will be ideal for recreational turf farms and vegetable growing applications, or a higher clearance version that will be suited to broadacre or row cropping applications with an extended under pipe clearance of 3.2m? metres.

The new irrigators are offered with extensive choices including a hose drag water feed or a self contained and carried pump system that will access a parallel channel feed water supply system. The hose drag version employs the Australian made Crusader lay flat hose. Hose diameters can be from 75 to 150mm

The Upton Linear Moves can also designed to be towable from one watering position to the next or can pivot if required. Designer and builder Paul Upton says he has made extensive use of non-corroding materials including high grade aluminium and stainless steel pipe work. He adds “our first two new Upton Linears are already at work.

“One is working at the All Saints Winery adjacent to the Murray Valley Highway at Wahgunyah. It’s is currently watering the pasture of the area that All Saints use as their polo field and to host their major events including their Day on the Green music events.”

This irrigator is watering an area with dimensions of 126 metres in width by a length of 260 metres or about 3.3 hectares per run, but the machine is then pivoted with water to an adjoining identical area.

The second new Upton Linear Move is being used by a specialist vegetable grower who concentrates on spring onion production at Tocumwal.

“It is watering a field area of 75 metres in width by 410 metres in length and the grower can reverse it back over the same ground as well as towing it to two more adjacent blocks of the same size” Paul Upton says.

The irrigators are designed for low pressure, highly efficient water distribution. Both current machines employ low pressure Nelson Sprinklers that are designed to give a wide throw watering pattern.

Mr Upton says that the design uses industry proven products with as high a local Australian content that it is possible to achieve.

“Irrigators with specialist demands like vegetable growers and turf farms have up until now been forced to purchase US designed and built Linear Moves with pretty much limited flexibility.We have elected to build a Linear that uniquely meets the features our growers want and at an affordable price in $A dollars whereas imported machines priced in $US have always been expensive and with their purchasers often exposed to exchange rate variations” Mr Upton says.

Founded in Corowa in 1944 the family owned third generation Irrigation and engineering company has built and installed hundreds of mobile irrigators all over Australia that are used to water a very diverse range of crops.

Upton have also used their expertise to design and build special purpose irrigators including racecourse irrigators that water most of Australia’s major grass racetracks. These machines have also been exported to many prominent racecourses around the world.

“We believe we have the expertise and skills in building both centre pivot and lateral move irrigators that are unique in meeting the watering needs of all types of irrigation projects.

“For instance, our use of corrosion resistant high grade aluminium and stainless steel pipework in this instance makes our machines ideal for watering with lower grade or recycled water supplies. We simply invite growers to bring their field dimensions to us together with information on their source of water and desired application rates and we will prepare an Australian designed and built irrigation solution to suit” Paul Upton says.

For technical enquiries or requests for further information, please feel free to contact us.

Two of the new Upton Australian designed and built Linear Move Irrigators are already working at Wahgunyah & Tocumwal.This machine is watering the polo and events field pasture adjacent to the All Saints Winery on the Murray Valley Highway at Wahgunyah.

Using non-corrosive pipe work in high grade aluminium and stainless steel, the towable irrigators are available in two field clearance heights of 1.8 and 3.2 metres.Designer and builder Paul Upton says he sees significant applications potential especially in turf farm and specialist vegetable growing for the lower clearance version in particular.

Newsletter April 2017

How much is fertilizer application really costing you?

Fertilizer and trace element application is generally done by one of two methods- Dry spreading or injecting into the water stream of your pivot irrigator. To make a real comparison between the 2 methods simply write down a list of all cost inputs to apply each method.

Dry application needs a tractor with spreader or a purpose built machine. Both options accumulate hours and general wear and tear on the machinery. Fuel usage and labour input by a skilled operator is also a considerable cost. Dry application is usually done when planting and maybe a couple times at the beginning of the crop cycle.

In the case of taller crops like corn or sorghum, fertilizer application later in the crop cycle can become increasingly difficult without specialised and expensive machinery. Injection into your centre pivot allows precision application when the crop needs it most without over or under application.

Fertilizers can be supplied as a bulk liquid or a small mixing/batch tank can be located next to the pivot centre to process dry chemicals. Mixing dry product can be a cost effective option when delivery costs are factored into remote locations. Fully adjustable injections pumps can be set to inject the required dosage per hectare and is applied during the normal watering cycle. Often overnight whilst you are sleeping.

If you are interested in saving time and money talk to Upton Engineering about our new fertilizer injection kits. We can supply mobile kits for easy transport between site or a more permanent on-site package for pivots with large hectare coverage. Don’t forget to keep records of all your inputs and compare yields between the different fertilizer application methods. Higher profits will only come from greater yields combined with lower inputs.

If you haven’t done it yet, download our free report on the ten most common mistakes people make with centre pivot irrigation.

Thanks for reading,

Paul Upton

Newsletter September 2016

Upton Centre Pivots give you more time for less money.

The decision has been made – ‘I need a new centre pivot irrigator’. The most common thought is – How much is this going to cost me? Instead we should be thinking – How much money could I save?

The 2 key factors in saving money are – How long is this system going to last? And how much is this system going to cost me (in both time and money) to operate year in and year out? Only then can you really compare apples with apples.

Upton pivots last longer and cost less to own, we use the very best high strength corrosion resistant materials to ensure you get the long lasting pivot available anywhere in the world. In fact, we have never replaced a single pipe due to corrosion on one of our pivots built with high tensile marine grade aluminium pipe.

Our previous newsletters have shown that a lower operating pressure directly relates to lower running costs. Our smooth bore pipe has significantly less friction than the galvanised pipe used by other manufacturers. When designing a pivot system to suit your individual needs we place a high priority on selecting the best pipe sizes that will lower your running cost and save you money, only then can you continue to save money every day for the life of your pivot irrigation system.

Saving time is something that everyone can agree on. Who wants to be driving around the farm starting and stopping pumps and checking pivots when you could be sitting around the BBQ with family and friends? Simple to use automation is the key to this. A couple of clicks on a smart phone app and you know exactly where your pivot is and how much water is being applied. Starting or stopping pumps is done automatically as the pivot requires them to.

If you are interested in getting the very best value for money on your next irrigation project gives us a call on 02 60 331 844 or contact us here and find out how much we could be saving you.


Thanks for reading,

Paul Upton

Newsletter February 2016

Low Pressure – How important is it really?

In our advertising we always state that we aim to achieve ‘low pressure’ operation, why is this?

From a purely mathematical point of view and by using the standard formula-

kW = Head(mtrs) x Volume(m3/hr)  / 360 x pump efficiency as a decimal

We can see that if we can lower the pressure at our water pump (Head) we are also proportionally lowering the hp(kW) required to drive the pump and therefore also lower our running costs.

  • In simple terms, if we can half the pressure, we can half our running costs.

Long term running costs is one of the most important factors in achieving an efficient irrigation system. Over the life of a centre pivot system, let’s use 20 years in this example, there are 2 main steps we can take to help reduce operation pressure. The first is to minimise friction loss in both the delivery pipeline and also in the pivot itself. This is done by utilising large bore PVC pipes for the mainline and the use of some larger diameter span pipes for the first few spans of the pivot.  The second method is to use a sprinkler and regulator package with a lower design pressure. The difference between a ‘cheap’ poorly designed pivot system compared to one of a more efficient design can typically mean a reduction of around 15-20 psi at the pump.

  • On a diesel driven pump set this can equate to a saving of around $2000 per year on an average centre pivot system. This becomes $40,000 over the 20 life of the pivot. Just by saving 15 psi.

A typical ‘mistake’ we encounter is people attempting to save money by using an older existing pipeline. In years gone by pipelines may have been installed with less consideration to overall operating costs. There are quite a few cases of irrigation systems requiring 40-50 psi more operating pressure than they truly need to, this can mean spending an extra $120,000 over 20 years in pumping costs alone. How much is that ‘cheap’ irrigation system really costing you?

Is there such a thing as going too low? Yes. Different sprinkler heads require different operating pressures and are specifically designed for particular applications. A rotator head below a 20 psi regulator will provide a large coverage area and superior crop penetration but is not required in most crop conditions where a spinner head or wobbler with a 10 psi regulator will do. This change alone can mean a 10 psi saving before looking at pipeline losses. Going too low with a 6 psi regulator and basic spray body may work ok in a LEPA (low energy precision application) system where there are very close sprinkler outlets but in general it will not provide enough water spread to effectively cover the distance between sprays or penetrate a tall crop. Your irrigation dealer or agronomist would be best to advise you on the most suitable sprinkler head for your application.

Thanks for reading,

Paul Upton

Pierce Irrigation Distributor Australia

Geraldton’s McIntosh & Son Branch Links With Upton Engineering For Upton & Pierce Irrigation Products Throughout The WA Northwest

Recognising that the Pilbara, the Kimberley and north west regions of Western Australia hold significant potential for the development of irrigation under centre pivot or lateral move equipment Upton Engineering the Corowa NSW based manufacturer has appointed the Geraldton based branch of long established agricultural machinery and services group McIntosh & Son as a full line distributor responsible for sales, installation, servicing and with a stock of all consumable parts.

McIntosh’s Geraldton branch manager Brad Forrester says he sought out the appointment from Upton Engineering for their full range of the Australian made Upton aluminium and the US Pierce range of galvanized steel centre pivot and lateral move irrigators.

“In fact we have recently completed the installation for grazier Brent Smoothy at Eneabba of four Upton seven tower centre pivots each watering 40 hectares of pasture,

“The irrigators have been supplied by Upton Irrigation to be used as part of a value adding cattle fattening and finishing operation” Brad Forrester says.

Upton Irrigation and the McIntosh & Son Geraldton branch will also be working together for a further installation at Wallal Station north of Port Hedland including two Pierce centre pivots each watering forty seven hectares.

This installation will be completed in coming weeks.

Brad Forrester says that Upton Engineering as a second and third generation family owned company is one of the best known and longest established manufacturers and suppliers of high technology irrigation.

Founded in Corowa in 1944 the Upton record shows towards 600 irrigators installed and managing director Paul Upton says that his company has succeeded from a focus on high design inputs, advanced state of the art manufacturing and an emphasis on customer service.

Brad Forester adds “our Geraldton staff that will specialise in irrigation have recently completed a technical induction course and a visit to the Upton headquarters in Corowa NSW.

“We see significant potential for both Upton and Pierce machines throughout the north west of WA as station property owners in particular see the potential for finishing their stock on irrigated grass pastures.

“There is also significant scope for irrigated crops to take advantage of the available water resources and McIntosh & Son consider irrigated agriculture will be a significant growth opportunity for the future.

“Like Upton’s McIntosh & Son is a long established WA agricultural machinery and services business having recently recorded our sixtieth year of operation.

“We have eight retail stores in WA, another in Queensland with long established relationship with leading brands like New Holland and Geraldton is our most northern branch in WA.

“It is uniquely placed to service the anticipated expansion of centre pivot and lateral move irrigation in the north west of WA”.

McIntosh & Son has appointed Glen Mackin with irrigation sales responsibility throughout the north west while Scott Hughes will head up service, parts and technical support from the Geraldton branch.

Upton Engineering manufactures its own branded range of aluminium centre pivot and is also the Australia stocking distributor for the Pierce range.

With head office in Oregon USA and active around the world the Pierce pivot and lateral move range of irrigators offers galvanized steel or poly lined pipe work making these machine an ideal choice for applications where poorer water quality may be an issue.

For More Information: contact Brad Forrester at McIntosh & Son Geraldton on 0428 215 003 or 089921 5000 or Paul Upton, Upton Engineering Corowa NSW on 02 6033 1844 or 0417 459 180.



Brad Forrester Branch Manager of McIntosh & Son Geraldton WA and his support staff have recently completed a technical and product induction on Upton and Pierce centre pivot and lateral move irrigation products at the Upton Engineering headquarters at Corowa NSW. McIntosh & Son has completed their first installation and commissioning of four Upton centre pivots each watering 40 hectares at Brent Smoothy’s cattle finishing operation at Eneabba. This project is to be followed by two more Pierce centre pivot s to be installed at Wallal Station north of Port Hedland. The McIntosh & Son Geraldton Branch will supply, install and service the Upton and Pierce irrigation ranges throughout the north west of WA.

Flemington goes with the flow from its two new irrigators

Flemington racecourse has just taken delivery of two new Upton Irriturf Racecourse irrigators to be used in preparing the grass track surface for the Spring Racing Carnival and the Emirates Melbourne Cup.

The new irrigator upgrades a machine design released 20 years ago – and still used at a number of local racecourses – and exported to tracks in the USA, UK, South Africa and New Zealand.

The new Upton machines at Flemington have a 30-metre wide folding galvanized steel boom and a 200-metre length of retractable hose and can water a 400-metre section of the track quickly and accurately, employing numerous control and operator features.

Caulfield also has a new irrigator from Upton Engineering, a company based in Corowa, just across the Murray in NSW, and is using it this spring.

The Flemington machines cover the full track width. They have four individual folding galvanized steel boom sections, which can be folded and switched off so that the boom width can be varied to avoid any obstructions or to change the spread of watering. The boom can also be raised or lowered to suit particular circumstances or to avoid distortion caused by the wind.

The flexible hose is 95mm (or three inches) in diameter and is carried on a hydraulically activated wind-up reel. The hose snaps-on to a hydrant inside the running rail at every 200 metres so that the irriturf can water a total track run of 400 metres a time.

The water, at a typical flow rate of 15 litres a second is applied via a choice of sprinklers fitted along each section of the boom, allowing the 400-metre section of the track to receive the equivalent of 9mm of rainfall in two hours.