Why centre pivot irrigation is a better investment?

Centre pivot irrigation systems are the leading method of crop irrigation in many agricultural zones across the world.

Field proven centre pivot systems are steadily replacing, traditional flood irrigation and subsurface drip irrigation in some instances.

A great number of conversions are being made to offset farm labour shortages,but, as an added benefit, centre pivots are also highly efficient with up to 95% efficiency in terms of application uniformity.

Centre Pivot and Drip Irrigation Comparison

Applying the correct amount of water at the right time is crucial to achieving a good yield, but it's also important to apply it uniformly and at precisely the right amount.

Comparing Drip and Pivots? There Is No Comparison!

Initial Cost

  • Drip systems cost 20% to 100% more than pivots.

Maintenance Cost

  • The normal, annual cost to maintain a drip system is about 7-10% of the initial investment.
  • On a center pivot used 2,000 hours per year, the annual maintenance cost is about 1-2% of the original purchase price.


  • The 50,000 emitters on a 50-hectare drip system require considerably more dedicated management than center pivots. And that doesn't even take into account the filter, drip lines, system controls, and higher pressure pump sets.
  • The 150 sprinklers on a 50-hectare center pivot installation are easily maintained with a convenient system control.


The performance of a subsurface drip system is highly dependent on the skill and knowledge of the designer.Pivot installations are fairly simple to design.


  • Installing a drip system is difficult. You must choose tape depth carefully for compatibility with cultivation practices to ensure the drip tape isn’t damaged.
  • Pivot installation is an easy and standardized process.


  • Subsurface drip systems can’t stimulate seed germination if the drip tape is placed below the root zone.
  • Sprinkler heads on a pivot apply water similar to the effect you get from rain, causing seeds to germinate. In fact, pivots can easily be fitted with a dual sprinkler package — one for germination and one for irrigation. On the other hand, some drip irrigators use sprinklers just for germination.

Plugging and Leaking

  • With a drip system, you must apply acid and periodically chlorinate the drip line to dissolve mineral concentration that can plug emitters. And you have to spray herbicides to kill roots that could wrap themselves around water lines.
  • The above ground sprinklers on a pivot are visible at all times, so plugging and leaking aren’t a problem. An average nozzle on a pivot is 16 times larger than a drip emitter.

Filter Maintenance

  • You must constantly monitor drip system filters, then flush or change them when necessary to prevent system failure.
  • Typically filtering is not required when using a pivot or linear.

Life Span

  • A typical drip system has a life span of approximately 10 years.
  • A typical Valley pivot has a life span of 20-plus years.

Salt Build-Up

  • Drip irrigation causes salt to accumulate at the dividing line between the irrigated zone and the non-irrigated zone in the soil, so that the soil becomes salinized over time. Eventually a sprinkler system will have to flush the accumulated salt below the crop root zone for the field to remain fertile.
  • Above ground sprinklers distribute water evenly over the surface, which irrigates the crop and leaches the salts in the soil to below the root zone.


  • Rats, crickets, corn borers, and mealy worms can attack vulnerable drip tape and cause leaks. You must dedicate a lot of time and money to combat these pests.
  • Pests cannot easily damage the steel structure and spray nozzles of a center pivot.

Crop Rotation

  • With a drip system, crop rotation is difficult because of the predetermined row spacing. The optimum row spacing of one crop, such as watermelons (1.8 meters) is not ideal for a rotation crop such as cucumbers (.9 meters). Rotating cucumbers into a watermelon field will result in a loss of 50% of the yield.
  • With center pivots, you can easily rotate your crops as often as necessary, or your pivot circle can be segmented with different crops.


  • You have to frequently replace drip tape, which is 20-25% of the total cost of a drip system. And once removed, it has no resale value whatsoever. In fact, removing the tape costs money.
  • Even after 15 years, a Valley pivot still holds a resale value of 50% of the initial purchase price.

Environmental Impact

  • Typical drip tape lasts 5 years. After that, many drip irrigators have to contact hazardous material experts for proper disposal of the used tape.
  • Valley equipment is made of 100% recyclable steel.

The cost-saving, efficient and long lasting solution

Fully automated

  • State-of-the-art controls for precise irrigation management and scheduling
  • Accurate water, chemical and fertiliser usage reports
  • Remote control and monitoring capability via internet and cell phone


  • 90-95% efficiency in varied climates and all soils
  • Even water distribution
  • Reduced deep percolation and runoff of chemicals
  • Uniformity little affected by wind when drops
  • Irrigates slopes up to 30%
  • No salt build up
  • Low per acre investment cost


  • 20+ year operation with regular maintenance
  • High-quality components


  • 95% recycleable components
  • Simple removal from fields
  • Resale capability


  • Multiple crops under one circle
  • Crop rotation - no need to change emitter spacing for different crops

Why Choose a Centre Pivot?

Higher return on investment

  • The long life of a pivot or lateral system will save you money year after year. You’ll use less water, reducing your energy costs. A pivot or lateral system also applies chemicals and fertilizers evenly, accurately and inexpensively. All this adds up to consistently higher yields.

Better return on investment

  • A pivot or lateral system costs less per acre (hectare) to install. For example, a drip system costs over 200% more than a pivot system to install on 125 acres (50 hectares).On larger fields, the cost difference is even greater.
  • Pivot systems also retain a high resale value, whereas drip systems cannot be resold.

Fewer maintenance hassles and labour costs

  • Compared to a drip system, maintenance is extremely simple for pivot and lateral systems. There is no emitter clogging by small contaminants or lime/calcium deposits, and no filter maintenance – it requires only a screened intake.
  • Rodents, roots and cultivation equipment won’t damage a center pivot system. Even algae and chemicals aren’t issues. Drip systems need to be monitored regularly because problems maybe hard to pinpoint, arise quickly, and prove difficult to fix. The potential of salt buildup at the perimeter of wetted area is another concern. When crops draw water up into the root zone, the water evaporates, leaving salt around the roots – which can interfere with the ability to absorb water.

More benefits for the grower and the environment

  • A pivot/lateral system can be monitored and controlled remotely. A grower can quickly apply water after seeding and as often as needed after that. It’s also easier on the field. If the equipment needs to be removed or replaced, it won’t damage the field.
  • Not to mention the fact that pivot systems are nearly 95% recyclable.