Menu

Clear a Path for Irrigation Systems

Farmers using center pivot irrigation should pay special attention this year to make sure the system has plenty of clearance, says Lyndon Kelley, a Purdue and Michigan State Extension specialist.

Plant debris and other obstructions could become entangled in a system’s lateral arms, potentially causing thousands of dollars in damage, Kelley said.

“It is especially important to check for obstructions this year because last year’s excellent growing conditions produced a very tall crop in many fields,” Kelley said. “In a few unfortunate situations, the tall crop and lack of sufficient clearance led to a pivot being flipped or rolled.”

Center pivot irrigation systems typically consist of a central pump tower, also called a pivot, which drives the lateral sprinkler arms in a circular track. The lateral arms are designed to be high enough off the ground to clear any mature plants.

If the arms are caught up in brush and unable to move freely, however, the force of the drive mechanism could put a dangerous amount of stress on the system, Kelley said.

“It’s like revving a car motor when you’re stuck in a ditch,” he said. “The mechanical components are not designed to work that way.”

Most cornfields in the Midwest require about 7 feet of clearance for the lateral arms, although fields with Sudan grass, silage corn and other tall crops could require 9 feet, Kelley said. Most tower legs, used to support the lateral arms, provide about 9 to 10 feet of clearance.

Farmers should also know the topography of their land.

“Hills and valleys can pose problems for center pivot systems,” Kelley said. “Operators should identify any areas that need to be addressed, and if they have questions they should have the pivot supplier map the hilltops and compare that to the tracks of the lateral arms.”

Most irrigation equipment suppliers have products available to adapt center pivot systems for hilly or uneven terrain, Kelley said.

Source: Darrin Pack and Lyndon Kelley, Purdue University 

Recent News

Senate Passes USMCA
1/17/2020

Just one day after the U.S. and China signed a Phase One trade deal, the Senate passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump One of the greatest trade deals ever made! Also good for China and our long term relationship. 250 Billion Dollars will be coming back to our Country, and we are […]

U.S., China Sign Phase One Trade Deal-Agricultural Purchases Included
1/16/2020

Financial Times writer James Politi reported on Wednesday that, “The US and China have signed an agreement to pause the trade war that has weighed on the global economy for nearly two years, while leaving in place tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports. “The so-called phase one deal signed at the White House on Wednesday offers […]

Did That Really Just Happen? USDA Revisions to the 2018/19 Corn Balance Sheet
1/15/2020

The USDA released a number of important reports for the grain markets on January 10, 2019, including the quarterly Grain Stocks report, Annual Crop Production Summary, and the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report.  In addition to all the estimates that garnered headlines, the USDA also released much less noticed revisions to production, ending stocks, and feed […]

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now