Fall Maintenance for Irrigation

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson November 15, 2018 10:29


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Field with a pivot sprinkler system for irrigation in the Midwest section of the United States

Now that fields are bare after your harvest, it’s a good time to do a little maintenance on your irrigation equipment.  Steve Melvin (University of Nebraska) says a key performance check that is often missed  is sizing up a pivot’s operating pressure.  He states that a working pressure gauge and an understanding of the operating pressure design for your system are necessary, and that the place to find your system’s design information is on the sprinkler chart which was included with your purchase.  This is often stored in the center pivot’s panel.

MSU/Purdue Extension irrigation educator Lyndon Kelley, offers a 13-point checklist for your reference:

  • Create a plan for making needed repairs ahead of winter.
  • Put the center pivot in motion and listen for worn bearings or damaged gear boxes.
  • Check wheels for loose lug bolts and tires for cracks and wear.
  • Listen to the drive system for squeals and knocks – indications of bearing and equipment wear.
  • Inspect the distribution system for leaks, bad seals and worn sprinklers, turning on the water and walking the length of the system.
  • Inspect pressure gauges for proper operation (A good practice is to keep a log of operating pressures during the season)
  • Measure water flow.  Kelley says:

A good indication the water supply flow is not what the system was designed for is when the pressure at the pivot point is greater than 10% different than your sprinkler package specification when all of the sprinklers and the endgun are on.

  • Compare the application chart to actual applications.  They can reveal potential uniformity and timing problems.
  • Check all major irrigation control and interlock systems.
  • Check stop barricades.  Tire skid marks may indicate the primary stop switch failed.
  • Calibrate yield sensors before harvesting irrigated fields.  Compare an aerial photo where you can identify the irrigation system with the yield map to look for anomalies.
  • Compare irrigated and non-irrigated fields which will help you decide if additional irrigation investments make sense.
  • Review total repair costs.  Most of the time, repairs and improvements are small compared to a new system.

Take these proactive measures today so that you can avoid potential mid-summer calamities next year.

-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team





Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson November 15, 2018 10:29
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