Heat Ranger saves more crop

Heat Ranger is mak­ing waves in the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing grow­ers with the op­tion of a cost ef­fec­tive, re­li­able source of warm air for cli­mate en­hance­ment to pro­tect their crops while giv­ing un­ri­valled op­por­tu­ni­ties in both risk man­age­ment and

The Orchardist - - What’s New -

Heat Ranger is unique in that it does not need an in­ver­sion layer be­cause it cre­ates its own. Heat Ranger has proved to be ef­fec­tive in frosts over the last six years in both black­cur­rant and grape crops and can pro­tect down to -3oC us­ing the blan­ket of warm air.

Heat Ranger is ideal for use on lower growing crops like grapes, blue­ber­ries, black­cur­rants and laven­der, as well as pro­vid­ing op­tions for veg­etable grow­ers.

Heat Ranger is on wheels so it can be towed by a trac­tor from one site to another to work in with crop ro­ta­tions and dif­fer­ences in tim­ing. At around $150 per hour for the LPG you sim­ply go out and turn it on, or have it turn it­self on au­to­mat­i­cally, and ELGAS can re­fill the tanks next day. The so­phis­ti­cated elec­tron­ics mon­i­tor the ma­chine’s func­tions and pro­vide you with au­to­ma­tion and a live screen on your com­puter or cell phone with feed­back of what is go­ing on. It couldn’t be any sim­pler.

Heat Ranger stands 5.3 me­ters tall and op­er­ates from a fixed po­si­tion, with the tur­ret ro­tat­ing about ev­ery three min­utes, blow­ing warm air out from the noz­zle at 30oC as a blan­ket out over a 250m ra­dius, cov­er­ing 20 hectares to­tal per ma­chine.

With the small di­am­e­ter six-blade fan and the dou­ble fi­bre­glass body, the noise lev­els are well be­low the re­quired lim­its, so it is neigh­bour friendly. LPG cost for a long frost is about $1,500 on 20 hectares whereas a he­li­copter for the same area costs ap­prox­i­mately $15,000 for the same du­ra­tion.

Heat Ranger was born from early work on black­cur­rants in Can­ter­bury, where it was proved that warm air over the top of the crop could save black­cur­rants from frost. In Novem­ber 2010 we had two early pro­to­type ma­chines which each pro­tected 4 ha from a -3oC frost with zero crop loss. Three he­li­copters nearby had a crop loss of 15% and the un­pro­tected area saw 65% of the crop fail in front of our eyes. This ex­pe­ri­ence gave us the con­fi­dence and in­cen­tive to de­velop a com­mer­cial ma­chine for the big­gest cli­mate chal­lenge fac­ing grow­ers not just in New Zealand, but glob­ally as well.

Heat Ranger is man­u­fac­tured by Wyma So­lu­tions in Christchurch and is ser­viced lo­cally. Equip­ment fi­nance is avail­able and cal­cu­la­tions prove Heat Ranger is the most cost ef­fec­tive op­tion on the mar­ket (fi­nance from Rabobank at around $46,000 per year, less than $2,500 per ha for frost pro­tec­tion paid off in five years, means it can be avail­able to all grow­ers).

The Heat Ranger team com­prises Bruce Koller, chair­man of Hor­ti­cul­ture Ex­port Author­ity for seven years and a for­mer black­cur­rant grower; Fred Phillips, an agri­cul­tural en­gi­neer with 40 years’ frost sprin­kler sys­tem de­sign ex­pe­ri­ence; and An­drew Bar­clay and his team at Wyma So­lu­tions, who pro­vide high qual­ity post-har­vest veg­etable equip­ment glob­ally. Heat Ranger is also sup­ported by The Com­pos­ite Group’s fi­bre­glass tech­nol­ogy and Ben­tech’s smart con­trol and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

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