You may not need your center pivots during planting season, but they need a little attention before you fire them up. Here are some tips to get your equipment ready for irrigation season.
To maximize the life of your drive train and keep it operating trouble-free, periodically drain any water that accumulates in the gearbox and center drive, and make sure the gear lubricant is at the proper level.
Be sure to fill deep wheel tracks during the off-season to reduce stress on irrigation, tillage, and harvest equipment. To help prevent future tracking, consider changing to a higher floatation tire, adding a floatation drive unit option, or modifying the sprinkler package to reduce water application to the wheel tracks.
Damaged motor contactors can reduce the life of the drive unit motor, so be sure to inspect and replace worn contactors.
Steel moving on steel without proper lubrication can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on irrigation equipment. Be sure to grease all moving parts, including the pivot point bearing, towable hubs, and corner rollers.
Water application is at the heart of what you do, in order to do this as best possible; sprinkler packages need to be properly designed and maintained to a high degree of accuracy. Generally, sprinkler packages should be replaced at least every 10,000 hours of operation. Regularly check for broken or worn sprinkler components and replace them as necessary. Also, consider running a new sprinkler design that could maximize uniformity and application efficiency, and help alleviate application issues such as runoff, ponding and soil sealing.
When done properly, you can minimize water pumping costs by reducing the machine’s operating pressure to a point that still produces enough pressure to operate the sprinkler package satisfactorily. Monitor pivot pressure regularly and ensure it remains adequate (as designed) throughout the season.
Maintaining the correct tire pressure is vital to the operation of irrigation equipment; the correct tire pressure ensures that floatation for a particular tire is maximized and the rolling circumference is consistent to what Valley uses on timer chart calculations. Be sure to periodically check tire pressure and adjust it to specification. Also, don’t forget to tighten wheel lug nuts and evaluate the overall tire condition. All tires lose pressure over time and lose or gain about 1 PSI per 10 degrees F of temperature change.
Pivot Alignment & Pipe Flushing
Ensure the tower box micro-switches are set properly. Improper settings can cause pivot misalignment, which results in nuisance shutdowns. Flushing your pipe line and cleaning your sand trap is essential if you have water quality problems or your irrigation water contains sand.
Evaluate your equipment for worn u-joint inserts and ensure driveshaft shields are in place for safety.
Be sure to power down the equipment before checking any electrical connections. Once the power is off, check for loose connections or loose cord grips in tower boxes.