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Keep pivots running: Preventive care tips

Shannon Peterson Published on 30 May 2014
Irrigation System

An in-season center-pivot breakdown is costly – not just in repair fees, but in lost irrigation days and possible yield loss. To help keep your irrigation equipment up and running, we've gathered some in-season maintenance tips because investing a little time in preventive action is always better than correcting a major failure.

  • Check the end pressure on your center pivot periodically. Water pressure is vital to ensuring your center pivot operates properly. Install a gauge and check your machine’s pressure occasionally throughout the growing season. If your pressure drops below the suggested psi, your crops may not be getting the proper amount of water, and that can lead to yield loss.
  • Check the pressure at the end tower because 50 percent of your crops are irrigated by the sprinklers on the last 30 percent of your center pivot. If the correct pressure is being delivered to the end of your machine, then the rest of the machine and all sprinklers are getting the right amount of pressure too. Ensuring that outer sprinklers are watering correctly is crucial because it directly affects your yields.
  • Water application is at the heart of what you do. In order to do this as best possible, sprinkler packages need to be maintained to a high degree of accuracy. Regularly check for broken or worn sprinkler components and replace them as necessary. Generally, sprinkler packages should be replaced at least every 10,000 hours of operation.
  • Maintaining the correct tire pressure ensures that floatation for a particular tire is maximized and the rolling circumference is consistent to what the pivot manufacturer uses on timer chart calculations. Be sure to periodically check tire pressure and adjust it to specification.
  • Don’t forget to tighten wheel lug nuts and evaluate the overall tire condition. All tires lose pressure over time, and lose or gain about 1 psi per 10ºF of temperature change.
  • To maximize the life of your drivetrain and keep it operating trouble-free, periodically drain any water that accumulates in the gearbox and center drive, and make sure the gear lubricant is at the proper level.
  • Consider regularly recording outlet pressure, flow rate and energy use. This information can provide an excellent means of evaluating your pump and motor performance.  FG

Shannon Peterson is the marketing content editor for Valley Irrigation.