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Prepare Irrigation Systems Now for Winter

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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The end of the growing season gives irrigation owners an opportunity to look back and take note of any problems encountered during the growing season on their pivots. Farmers should plan now to address these issues before the next growing season. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Kipp Abresch)

Fall is the time center pivot irrigations systems should be prepared for a long winter's nap. Irrigation systems should be checked thoroughly at the end of fall to maintain proper operation for the next growing season, according to a recent blog titled "Checklist for winterizing your irrigation system" from the University of Minnesota Extension.

Author Vasudha Sharma, University of Minnesota Extension irrigation specialist, wrote there are some basic steps which can be done to protect your irrigation system, as well as ensure the system is ready to go for the next growing season.

Sharma recommended irrigation system owners conduct a uniformity test and check the sprinkler performance. Perform a "catch can" uniformity test to make sure that the system is applying water uniformly and if there are any leaks, missing or damaged sprinklers, damaged pipes, regulators, etc., since these issues need to be repaired or replaced.

If the uniformity test came out poor, consider replacing the sprinkler package. The useful life of sprinklers heads range from 5,000 to 8,000 hours of pivot operation, he wrote.

Sharma also recommended farmers check system components and secure these parts. Check all motor and pump openings to see if they are closed properly, lock the control box in the off position, and drain the irrigation system.

Check all gearboxes on the towers for any water/moisture accumulation, lubricate the fittings and service drive lines and motors on pivot towers, he said. The oil in the gearboxes should be replaced every year before winter arrives.

Park the pivot in the right place, according to Sharma. "Park the system parallel to the prevailing winds."

Also, he recommended people check the tires, wheel tracks and pivot points before winter. Check the air pressure of each pivot tire, repair the wheel tracks in the field, and clean all vegetation around the pivot points and wells to avoid rodents and grazing cattle, he wrote.

Sharma said the end of the growing season gives pivot owners an opportunity to look back and take note of any problems encountered during the growing season. Farmers should plan now to address these issues before the next growing season.

Growers should take the time for some recordkeeping. The winter months allow people to think about new technologies and get them installed for the next season.

"The items listed above can help you protect your irrigation system in the winter and ensure that it is ready to water for the next season," Sharma wrote. "However, some components might be different or you might have more parts on your system, so also check for those specific system components."

To read the entire University of Minnesota Extension blog click on https://blog-crop-news.extension.umn.edu/….

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter at @RussQuinnDTN

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