Last week’s high winds are a warning of what’s still to come this spring and farmers are encouraged have a plan ready for protecting irrigators against damage.

Wind damage remains the top cause of irrigator claims says rural insurer, FMG.  In spring the frequency and severity of foehn winds rise, which increases the risk of irrigators blowing over.

FMG’s Manager Advice, Stephen Cantwell says wind accounts for 34% of all claims.

“Over half of all FMG’s wind damage claims occur in spring. Corner arms are especially susceptible to damage during high winds because of their length and angle. We’ve found that corner arms have also been damaged in up to 6% of wind claims,” says Stephen.

Through claims’ insights and alongside IrrigationNZ, FMG has developed a new Irrigation Guide to support farmers and growers to prevent irrigator damage. One key piece of advice in the guide is the importance of having a plan.

“Farmers and growers have told us that when a windstorm is on the way, having a plan can really ease the pressure. Given the high winds we saw last week, now’s a great time to review or create your plan. Although it’s been a few years since the 2013 Canterbury windstorms we can’t get complacent as we never know when the next one will strike,” says Stephen.

Another tip that the guide shares is to ‘point, park and anchor’ your irrigator.

“We’ve found that pointing an irrigator either into or away from the wind (if possible) remains an effective way to reduce damage to your irrigator in high winds. IrrigationNZ and FMG have worked with farmers and found that irrigators parked in this position significantly lessen the probability of damage by reducing the surface area exposed to the wind,” says Stephen.

Once it’s pointing into the prevailing wind, park it there until the winds dissipate. Lastly, make sure the irrigator is anchored correctly.

Other significant contributors to claims with FMG are the irrigator hitting something (27%), something hitting the irrigator (11%) and mechanical and structural failure (8%). Advice on how to prevent these causes of damage are also included in the guide.

“We want to support farmers and growers to use irrigation as part of their operation as we see irrigation as an important part of supporting the growth of strong and prosperous rural communities.

“The collaboration of farmers, growers, and other industry partners with IrrigationNZ and FMG helped identify key causes of irrigator damage, both from winds and operational accidents. The guide will continue to help irrigator users throughout the country on how to mitigate irrigator risks and minimise the disruption should damage unfortunately occur,” says Stephen.

Farmers can sign up to Metservice severe weather alerts by clicking here.



Claire Broun, External Communications Specialist

Mobile: 027 302 5057