Sep 16, 2021 0min read

Maintaining the parks, gardens and open spaces of Victoria is no easy feat. Apart from keeping the state’s natural assets looking good, the Victoria Parks and city council teams also need to keep each unique ecosystem functioning at its best, preserving the balance between community enjoyment and natural habitat. Lake Wendouree in Ballarat is a prime example of when nature meets man. In a past life, Lake Wendouree was a low-lying swamp area; later converted into a local water supply to meet the demands of Ballarat’s growing population. Since then, the lake has thrived as a hub for sporting events, leisure, and tourism, while drawing local wildlife to the area. It has been dubbed the ‘Heart of Ballarat’ by the Parks and Gardens team at the City of Ballarat council. To keep this heart of the city beating, the team at the City of Ballarat has needed to employ some serious maintenance machinery. This includes a unique, purpose-built weed cutter, featuring an Isuzu Power Solutions (IPS) 4JJ1 X Power Unit, powering a weed harvesting system designed locally by PFG Australia in Tasmania. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK20RUEpR0s&t=2s

In action: the City of Ballarat’s on-water harvester keeps Lake Wendouree’s weed growth under control.

Weeds growing in Lake Wendouree are a vital part of the lake’s ecology, but they toe a fine line between preserving water quality and becoming a nuisance. Too many weeds and the lake reverts to swamp-like conditions; too little and the lake’s usual good health begins to deteriorate. At the Trails and Waterways Division of the City of Ballarat, Plant Operator, Jeff McKenna, explains the strategy needed to maintain the lake’s water quality. “The lake is predominantly 1.5 metres deep, and the weeds can grow up to 150 millimetres per week, depending on the season. “We try to target weed management so that the events around the lake can continue, without harming the lake itself,” Jeff explained. “We keep a large portion of remnant vegetation within the lake and harvest the areas that our sport and tourism industries need to use… essentially leaving as much as we can for the health of the lake.”

Plant Operator Jeff McKenna targets overgrown weeds in the lake

Powered by the IPS 4JJ1 X Power Unit, the harvester is propelled by hydraulically driven paddles to locations pre-determined by an in-built GPS system. Reliability was a priority for the City of Ballarat when deciding on which brand to trust, with all the components of the 11-tonne harvesting machine—including the air-conditioning system—depending on the power unit. Rated at 127.4 hp @ 2,500 rpm or 108.3 hp (continuous) @ 2,000 rpm, the turbocharged 4JJ1 X diesel-powered unit is designed for low fuel consumption, low noise and low maintenance. A residential grade exhaust system and heavy-duty cooling system rated to 50° C and over (premium models) ensures the weed harvester can continue works in the height of an Australian summer.

Pumping heart: Isuzu’s 4JJ1 X unit powers all components of the 11-tonne harvester.

“The main reason we use Isuzu product is for the support and operating reliability,” Jeff said. “Our local dealer support (Ballarat Isuzu) is outstanding. If we ever have issues, they’re only a phone call away and they’re straight onto it. “We are 100 per cent reliant on the hydraulics being powered by the Isuzu product. Our older vessel has nearly 10,000 hours on this power unit, and it’s basically working at full RPM, 365 days a year, and it doesn’t stop. “We’re really, really happy with the reliability of product.” For Jeff, the tranquility of working in the middle of the lake isn’t drowned out by a noisy engine or interrupted by an empty reading on the fuel gauge. “One of the things I like about the new 4JJ1 X power unit is that it’s very economical. “From an operator’s point of view and for a large piece of equipment, it is actually very quiet, which is a fantastic thing to have,” Jeff said. “PFG and Isuzu have done really well to integrate this unit into the weed harvester, which provides better safety for the team.”   

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