A revolutionary non-return valve for large and small-scale irrigation invented by a Victorian irrigation specialist is an entry in the 2017 Henty Agri-Innovators Award.
Peter Cocciardi has designed a valve scalable from as small two inches (50mm) up to six feet (1800mm) version.
Mr Cocciardi said the valves were an extension to his earlier invention, flow regulating valves which won the 2013 National Farm Inventor of the Year award.
The flow regulating valves maintain the water heights in the main irrigation channels while the non-return valves allow the irrigator to remotely start their pumps.
“Our non-return valves were designed in response to numerous complaints I heard from large irrigators,’’ Mr Cocciardi said.
“They now have the ability to remotely operate their pumps – something they cannot do without a reliable non-return foot valve.
“The inlet lines to the pumps must remain fully primed or the pump cannot operate and therefore remote operation remains a dream.
“These pumps can be on large rotary or lateral irrigators, transfer pumps or even on smaller syphon lines on dams feeding a few troughs.’’
Mr Cocciardi said the design used a spherical sealing element in a technique unique in the world.
“All our valves allow full flow, can be provided with a water dampener to reduce water hammer and with virtually any flange combination required,’’ he said.
They are manufactured in Australia from SS316 material providing a lifetime of service with little, if any, maintenance.
“They can operate at virtually any head pressure or angle of incline with no loss of seal quality,’’ Mr Cocciardi said.
“There is simply no other valve like them anywhere in the world.
“It will finally provide security on the suction line allow for remote automation for a wide variety of irrigation systems.’’
Mr Cocciardo has lodged patents for the non-return valve and is on the cusp of commercial production.
He designed The Cocky Valve several years ago to end the frustration caused by blocked, erratic or broken stock trough valves.
Engineered to last, the Cocky Valve can withstand pressure of 150 psi but is equally effective in low pressure applications.
Mr Cocciardo, of Narre Warren, left farming to manufacture smaller stock trough and larger irrigation valves.
“It has changed my world – it gets in your blood and you can’t stop thinking about inventing stuff – it’s been a great journey,’’ he said.
Mr Cocciardo said showcasing past inventions at Henty in the farm inventors award had drawn plenty of positive farmer feedback.
“These competitions are just such an invaluable way of new products getting feedback from the potential customers,’’ he said.
“The input and positive feedback we received back in 2013 was just fantastic.
“We got involved in the larger scale valves that year due to a request from a piping contractor looking for a flow regulating valve in about 300mm size.
“It’s amazing how one simple phone call, one evening from a guy with a problem can turn your world on its head.
“Here we are four years later with two worldwide patents for irrigation valves and about to go into production and national distribution.’’