Pivot Sprinklers

Before planting a single seed, have your irrigation systems ready to pump

While some erroneously think farmers have the winter off for vacation, Nebraska crop producers have a million things to do before planting a single seed. One includes having their irrigation systems ready to pump and provide water if rain doesn’t come. If you irrigate with one or more of the 55,000 plus center pivot systems in Nebraska, do you know the expected life of sprinkler packages? While some producers may consider this a low-priority question, it only takes a few non-performing sprinkler components to make a significant decrease in yields; especially if left unchecked over several seasons.

Sprinkler packages for center pivots and lateral-move systems are designed to deliver more than 90 percent water delivery uniformity under no-wind conditions after considering system capacity, distance from the pivot point to a specific sprinkler, spacing between sprinklers, field topography and pumping plant performance among other potential considerations. Standardization in nozzle diameters available (diameters increase in 1/128 – inch increments) does create a small amount of nonuniformity during design.  

However, once installed and operational, nozzle wear, plugging, pressure regulator effectiveness, water quality, component quality, system leaks, weather damage and incorrect design parameters can dramatically decrease the rated life of outlet components and affect delivery uniformity as soon as the first time you irrigate.

Irrigation experts recommend the following simple, five-part inspection each spring before the crop canopy is present:

  1. Verify the system is supplied by the correct flow rate and operating pressure
  2. Compare the sprinkler sizes installed to the sprinkler design printout
  3. Verify the last sprinkler is supplied with correct operating pressure when the end gun is operating and the last tower is at its highest point
  4. Verify the end gun is set to run according to the design sheets
  5. Verify sprinklers are not cracked or broken and deflection pads are not worn excessively

As an EnergyWise℠  partner, your local electric utility wants to help you make the most of the energy needed for irrigating with all-electric center pivot or linear tower systems. Participating utilities will provide a $500 incentive when producers replace all of a system’s existing outlet components, such as sprinkler heads, sprayers, rotators, plates, pads and nozzles, and regulators on qualified systems. Other program requirements apply. Start by visiting with your local electric utility, or visit https://www.nppd.com/incentives/prescriptive-irrigation for more details.

Your local utility and Nebraska Public Power District want to help you make the most of the energy you need. That includes the electricity you need when irrigation season arrives. For additional ways you can become EnergyWise℠ , contact your local utility.

About Cory Fuehrer

Cory, NPPD Energy Efficiency Program Manager, leads the implementation of balanced energy solutions that meet environmental, efficiency and economic needs. Cory is involved with the EnergyWise℠ energy efficiency programs that assist customers optimize their use of energy in the residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors.