Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Time to Evaluate Your Sprinkler Package | by Jerry Gerdes

Plugged sprinkler
For most farmers, the irrigation season has ended and harvest is in full swing. Farmers are working hard to get their crops in the bin. For center pivot irrigators, a well-maintained sprinkler package will ensure maximum crop yields and full bins after harvest.

Like all farm equipment, sprinkler packages need to be inspected each year to maintain performance.  It’s best to do the inspection after harvest or in the spring before planting the next crop. There are several key steps that should be performed.
  1. Obtain the sprinkler package report containing the location of the sprinklers and pressure regulators on the center pivot.
  2. Using the sprinkler package report, verify that each sprinkler location on the pivot matches the location in the report and contains the correct sprinkler, pressure regulator, and drop components.
  3. Replace broken or missing sprinkler package components with the correct items per the sprinkler package report.
  4. Once the sprinkler package components are verified as correct, pressurize the machine with water. Verify that the pressure gauge at the pivot point matches the sprinkler package design pivot pressure.
  5. Plugged pressure regulator
  6. Visually inspect all sprinklers for consistent and uniform water pattern performance.  Disassemble sprinklers with poor water patterns and check for plugging and defective sprinkler components.
Often I’m asked how long will sprinklers last.  The life of sprinkler components will depend on the quality of the irrigation water.  Irrigation water with gritty or abrasive material will shorten the life of sprinklers compared to clean irrigation water.  A general rule is that 10,000 hours of operation is the point where a sprinkler package performance could begin to degrade and reduce crop yields.

Uniform water pattern

Jerry Gerdes
Product Manager - Water Application

Jerry, Nebraska-based Water Application Product Manager, contributes years of experience from his time working for a sprinkler manufacturer prior to joining Valley Irrigation. Currently working with different sprinkler manufacturers, Jerry develops the recommendations for the optimum water application package for a grower's operation.