Don’t Risk Losing Your Crop

In January 2013 we have noticed a significant increase in the amount of centre pivot irrigators that have fallen down, often when crops cannot afford to go without water. Bob Johnson, Director of TEAM Irrigation offers his feedback on what is causing the centre pivots to fall down and what you can do to minimize the risk of a fall down.

Q & A with Bob Johnson

Over the past 6 weeks you have repaired or replaced several centre pivots that have fallen down, why do you think these irrigators have fallen down?

The majority of irrigators which have fallen down have been older machines that have worked long past what I would consider to be the normal operating life of an irrigator. As a farmer I know that most farmers will replace their tractors at 8-10,000 hours however they don’t replace pivots until 20-30,000 hours or until they fall down. The life span of a centre pivot is not 3 times that of a tractor. Old machines running for too long can be fatal. Don’t risk losing your crop.

Many of the spans which have fallen down have shown signs of rust for a long time. Signs of rust include pin holes in pipes, rust spots, rust in flushing drains and blocked sprinklers from rust. Rust is caused by the quality of the water or from using the centre pivot to fertilize a crop.

In my opinion, urea should not be applied through non poly-lined machines. Particularly granulated urea as it doesn’t fully dissolve. Only use liquid based fertilizers through a poly-lined centre pivot. I understand that many may not agree with my opinion but I have seen the results of injecting dissolved fertilizer through a non poly-lined centre pivot.


What can growers consider doing to prevent fall downs?

  • Don’t use granulated urea
  • Regularly flush out machines after using fertilizers
  • Budget for a replacement program
  • Invest in water treatment technology that combats salinity in irrigation water. I’d recommend Delta Water solutions. Delta Water treatment technology treats water through powerful magnetic fields, minimizing mineral & salinity problems in water supplies and soils. Contact Tim on 68855220 to organize a water quality test through Delta Water to determine a solution for your water quality issues.
  • Have a service and maintenance program in place. Reduce the risk of breakdowns and fall downs. Regular maintenance of your pivots involves checking several key components and making any necessary repairs or replacements. Key inspection points include:
  1. Lubrication
  2. Electrical components
  3. Drive train & tyres
  4. Sprinkler package efficiency
  5. Benefits of Regular Pivot Maintenance
  • Scheduling annual maintenance appointments for your pivots will assure a longer, more reliable life for your pivots – and more productive growing seasons for you. The benefits of regular maintenance include;- Less downtime, lower operating costs,  Longer pivot life,  better return on investment
  • If your water is hard, purchase only poly-lined centre pivots
  • Undersling before it is too late. Undersling means running PVC pipes parallel to the current pipes in a span. Don’t undersling if you already have signs of rust. Zimmatic have a repiping program, for more information call Craig Chandler on 6885 5220 to discuss your options.
  • Replace old machines before they fall down in your crop. Take advantage of the high Australia dollar and purchase your new centre pivot.
  • Start on farm training so that pivots don’t run into obstacles such as tractors or tools.

If you would like further information on Bob's comments, we suggest you click on the following links.

Poly- Lined Pipes

Corrosive Resistant pipe brochure 

Delta Water Solutions