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.

A long working life with Upton

Upton Engineering has made a long term commitment to building the best irrigation equipment that it possibly can using high design inputs, state of the art manufacturing and a customer service focus, says the company’s chief executive Paul Upton.

Today the business has hundreds of centre pivot and lateral move irrigators to water areas up to 80 hectares.

Mr Upton said irrigator choices on offer also included the Pierce equipment range from America, for which Upton Engineering was the Australian distributor.

However, with the falling Australian dollar and rising US dollar, the purchase cost of a lot of imported irrigation equipment was starting to “significantly” increase.

“The Pierce centre pivot and lateral move range offers galvanised steel and also poly lined pipework, making these machines an appropriate choice for applications where aggressive water quality may be a factor,” Mr Upton said.

“The locally designed and fabricated Upton centre pivot or lateral range is built from marine grade aluminium pipework which overcomes the corrosion issues.

“Our philosophy is to offer machines with a potential working life of 30 years. “We believe the corrosion resistance of marine grade aluminium, together with the stainless steel pipe- work, control boxes and other fitting that we use provides this assurance.” Mr Upton said the company had even upgraded its gasket material from rubber to the more expensive urethane to provide a longer reliable working life.
“This is what our farmer clients tell us they prefer,” he said. Mr Upton said the order book for the Corowa-based production centre was pretty full with irrigators going to clients across Australia including a number that are repeat orders from local farmers and producers.

“A number of Upton centre pivots in the Riverina are in fact farming operations with multiple numbers of our irrigators most with an individual centre pivot coverage of 60ha being quite common.

“A lot of our current orders are in fact additional new centre pivots – and replacements for older rusted machines – for established farming operations.”

Upton Engineering also provides an Australia-wide delivery and erection service for its centre pivot and lateral move irrigators as well as a complete service back up. Mr Upton said the company worked with its clients to design, build and install site specific centre pivot or lateral move irrigation systems.

Driving Engineering Into The Future

It’s great to know the Murray region boasts many experienced professionals and the engineering expertise dating back to 1944 of the Upton’s spans over three generations. Brothers Marc and Paul have helped build Upton Engineering into the business it is today. Specialising in broad acre irrigation and more recently solar tracking devices, this niche business based in Corowa, NSW has tried its hand at more innovative designs!

A battery powered car? Yes, an old 1982 Toyota which has been converted to a green machine, overcoming the problem in hybrid or green conversions which does not compromise on the performance of the car. Paul Upton tells Murray Now, “We wanted to demonstrate that a 30 year old car can be good for another 30 years with this type of technology. We have created a zero emission system, whereby the lithium ion batteries charge from our solar tracking system, not from the power station”.

For Upton Engineering this conversion was more of a demonstration rather than a commercial reality due to the high cost involved. The average cost of such a conversion is between $20K and $25K, and for the average person this may not be affordable. The batteries are the latest technology and are $6,000 on their own. Although once the initial outlay has been made it only costs approximately $2.50 a day to recharge.

The car has a range of about 80km before a recharge is required; which is only limited to the number of batteries that are installed in the vehicle. “We would double the range if we doubled the amount of batteries in the car although that increases the weight and performance of the car. We tried to keep the weight relative to before the conversion, only adding about 20kg.” The car would be a fantastic commuter around town where you could charge the car at the end of each day.

But what really makes this business tick is the ability to provide machinery and equipment which is extremely robust and can withstand the extreme weather conditions, not only in Australia, but around the world. With demand overseas it is evident that there are cheaper imports coming into Australia making it harder to compete, although Upton Engineering believe quality will always prevail.

“We design and build equipment (such as the central pivot irrigators) like a ‘meccano set’ or ‘flat pack’ into containers or onto trucks, which are constructed on site with relative ease. We can pack a 500m long irrigator onto the back of a single tray truck and build it on site. This is a real advantage” Paul adds. At Upton Engineering if a customer enquires with an idea to build machinery, Paul and Marc will do whatever is necessary to make that idea a reality. Well the 1982 Toyota is a perfect example of these creative minds in action!

What of the future of Upton Engineering? Well there could be demand to renew the life of older vehicles on the horizon around the world. Closer to home Marc is hoping to convert a new (about 5 years old) Ute as the next project, and include the provision for battery monitors and a conventional 15 amp charging dock. Presently there are fast charge stations in the United States, and some car companies are selling cars without motors for conversion purposes.

For more information on the car conversion please contact Marc Upton on 02 60331844 or email

Giant 2WD Australian-built tractor returns home to Upton Engineering at Corowa

LOVERS of Upton ­Engineering tractors are extraordinarily pas­s­ionate about them.

The last one was built 34 years ago and owners are reluctant to sell.

When Corowa manufacturer Upton Engineering was scouting for a heavy-duty tractor for yard work recently, it was able to buy a rare two-wheel-drive with its own name already on the side.

It was an Upton MT-855, one of about eight of this model built in the mid-1970s.

Paul Upton, a third generation Upton, who manages the business with his brother, Marc, said they needed a good tractor to help pull sleds loaded with centre- pivot irrigators from shipping containers.

Their father, Carl, who has retired from the business, ­designed the Upton 2WD tractors in the 1960s and 1970s after the business developed a reputation for retrofitting former US Army World War II tanks as landclearing and water pumping machines for farmers and irrigators along the Murray River.

Upton Engineering was started by Carl’s father, Arthur, in the 1940s.

The supply of second-hand diesel ­engines and heavy differentials from the Grant M3 tanks eventually dried up, and Upton Engineering began building bespoke tractors to order. Only about 30 tractors were built over a 12-year period from the late 1960s.

Most of the Upton tractors were designated “MT”, for med­ium tractor, although when they were built they were the biggest 2WD agricultural tractors in the world.

Paul said because they were only ever built to order with long lead times, the sales volume was never going to compete with the 4WD off-the-shelf tractors delivered by overseas manufacturers.

The MT-855 recently bought by the Uptons was built in 1976 and acquired from a farmer at Minlaton, on the South Australian Yorke Peninsula. The purchase has a story to it.

Paul found the owner and had to convince him they were worthy to buy the much-loved piece of machinery.

The farmer, Scott Hoyle, drove all the way from South Australia with an armful of photo albums of his beloved MT-855 to visit the Uptons at Corowa.

“He left the photo albums with us and said we could have the tractor and he delivered it to us,” Paul said. “Scott told us he knew he needed to sell the tractor but he wanted it to go to the right owner.

“And that was us.”

The MT-855 has a 216kW (290hp) Cummins diesel ­engine and, according to Paul, makes passersby take notice when they fire it up.

It is a cherished addition to the Upton Engineering yard and will be used to move sleds of parts now that Uptons has become the national distributor for Pierce Centre Pivots.

Carl, who retired about 10 years ago, is quietly pleased his old tractor is back “home” but still on the lookout for another, the biggest factory built 2WD tractor in the world.

At 23 tonnes and with 350hp, this is one big tractor and was last seen still at work in South Australia.

Carl would love to know its whereabouts and would possibly be interested in buying it.

While Upton Engineering is busy building everything from racetrack watering systems to fog cannons to damp down dusty digging areas in the mines, you get the feeling Carl would still love to be building tractors, and 2WD ones at that.

“We built tractors in country Australia in Corowa and we took on the world,” he said.

“In the first demonstration we had of the tractors, we pulled three ploughs with 54 discs at five miles an hour.”

He maintains 2WD tractors suit many Australian conditions better than 4WD, which he considers a waste especially in the Riverina.

“You are not driving the extra paraphernalia of a 4WD and people told me there was a 25 per cent saving in fuel using a 2WD doing the same job.”

But he acknowledges the prestige of owning an imported tractor, and the finance deals offered through the major manufacturers, mean Upton tractors can’t compete.

Upton Engineering, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, still makes its own design irrigation equipment and sells imported centre pivot systems for broadacre growers.

A giant yellow MT-855 in the yard will not only be a big help but a constant reminder of the day they took on the big guys.