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Save water in farming with roller e-chain for targeted irrigation

18 October 2022

A new precision irrigation carriage can reduce water and fertiliser consumption by up to 75 percent, and an igus e-chain in a trough guides hoses with an additional energy saving.

The aim of the precision irrigation carriage made by Rathmakers Gartenbautechnik is to use the right amount of water while also conserving groundwater resources. The new automatic irrigation system channels water directly to the plants.

For the safe and compact guidance of hoses and cables, the manufacturers use an igus energy chain system consisting of a roller chain and guide trough.
Water shortage is a major problem worldwide, which means that solutions are needed, especially in agriculture, that bring water in a targeted way to the plant. Rathmakers Gartenbautechnik with help from the local chamber of agriculture near Cologne, Germany, have jointly developed a precision irrigation carriage.

Whereas conventional irrigation carriages with a continuous jet stream waste a lot of water, this precision carriage irrigates and fertilises in a controlled way. The unique system is especially suitable for outdoor potted plant cultivation and ensures that water is delivered precisely into the middle of the plant's growing pot.
By using this new technology, water, pesticide and fertilizer savings of 50 to 75 percent are possible, depending on the pot size.

Reducing water volume also reduces nitrogen run-off into the groundwater. The precision irrigation carriage has a span of 40m and can travel 208m. The cables and hoses for the water supply have been pulled behind the carriages, until now.

A loop was created, which required about two metres of space between the carriage guide and the plants. A safe hose with cable guidance was required, which should also save space. Ralf Hormes, CEO of Rathmakers Gartenbautechnik, contacted igus. "Together with the igus experts, we decided to design a roller energy chain in a guide trough," he explains.
Bigger working area: 343m2 more usable space
The main advantage of the system is that by guiding the hoses and cables, the usable land area is increased by 343 square metres. The roller e-chain also increases the service life of the supply components in the system.

A 3500R series roller chain with a width of only 35cm is used in a “guidelite” polymer guide trough, an igus chain designed for long travel and low-speed applications.

The technical feature of the energy chain is the integration of rollers in the chain links to reduce the coefficient of friction on long travels. In this way, up to 57 percent of the required drive energy can be saved while moving the energy chain system.

The guidelite guide trough is a cost-effective solution that can be installed quickly. It is made of corrosion-resistant and durable high-performance polymer. "It is an all-round system that has proven itself technically and also from a cost perspective," says Hormes.
Since November 2019, igus has reclaimed plastic energy chains and troughs when they reach the end of their service life, and guarantees their segregated recycling. In return, the user receives a credit note based on the net weight.

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