Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-06-2007, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

Being from a dryland area, I have little knowledge of pivots. I have an efficiency question.

When I see a full-circle pivot, (can travel 360 degrees), that makes perfect sense to me. When I see a pivot in an area that is too small for it, they will limit it to traveling 180 degrees, sometimes more, sometimes less. This is the part I don't understand. A pivot is an expensive investment, and the price goes up every time you add another section to it. So to me, seeing a pivot that can only do 180 degrees seems like it is not a very efficient use of money. The pivot costs the same amount, but is only able to cover half of the ground it could be. Thus the depreciation cost per irrigated acre is higher than a full-circle pivot would be.

At what point do you decide it isn't viable to put a pivot in a field that has an odd shape and won't allow for a full-circle operation? Less than 180 degrees, less than 90 degrees?

-Lance (irrigation noob)

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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-06-2007, 07:25 PM
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

You should know Lance that there are never any silly questions, only silly answers

I have always been told over here that the bigger the pivot, the cheaper it gets per acre (a 250 acre pivot will be cheaper per acre than say a 50 acre pivot).

In those odd shaped fields where pivots do 1/2 or 3/4 circles, I would think a linear move would be more sensible (better use of the available land area). That is one of the major problems that I have with pivots, the waste of land in the corners.

Cheers,

TC.

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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-06-2007, 10:11 PM
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

Lance,

hey, i am no expert on this but i can add some insight, ideally you hit the nail on the head, the farther around you can go the better, but there are several other considerations...

efficiency obviously, about 65% with pipe and flood and 95% with sprinkler and drops (source ksu agronomy) (oznet.ksu.edu), pumping a third less water with energy prices (and a low aquifer) is a big help financially.

You can grow a much better crop under a pivot, more bushels per water unit in my area, i am sure it works to be more bushels on less water in our area as well, however water is our limiting factor. In many cases it is significant, the difference between 150 bushels and 220 bushels on 300 gpm. fewer acres, true but in many cases more bushels

labor is a huge one, pipe is a pain in the a$$ frankly, makin sure it is running all the way through, packing rows, laying pipe to prewater, picking up pipe to plant, chaging water 2+ times a day. sprinklers you set a stop and leave, something goes wrong the pivot calls your phone.

all of the reasons above i guess, and in a lot of cases it takes as much pipe to water an odd shaped field of 50 acres than it does a quarter, lots of short runs with equipment etc. in most cases i think the standard is no less that about 120 degrees with a standard length pivot.

tascowboy,
i also often wonder why linears are not more popular, i hear they are significantly more in cost than a center but they make alot of sense. i do see some corner systems (taildraggers) see website, a picture is worth a thousand words for this one (http://zimmatic.com/zim_agsysystem_MAXfield.asp), they are neat, i am sure pricey to, however accomplish the same thing as a linear.

hope this sheds a little light on the situation...some one can probably shed more light on it..


Edit: Fixed the URL -Lance
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-06-2007, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

Beh, I saw a couple of those taildragger pivots out on the wheat run, and that is some incredible technology and innovation.

For your example of 120 degrees, here's my dryland thoughts on that: I notice that usually not every full quarter section has a pivot on it. I then see pivots on smaller pieces of land or quarters that have obstructions or something. Say you had 3 pivots that each did 120 degrees. To me, it seems like you bought 3 of the wrong fields and two extra pivots. One would be much better off selling those 3 fields and buying one larger field you can run one pivot on in 360 degrees. The cost of selling/buying land to get a larger field would be negated by not having to buy the 2 spare pivots. End result would be the same # of acres under irrigation. That makes sense in my mind, but I don't know if it works that way in real life.

-Lance
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-06-2007, 10:42 PM
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

Lance,

there are some people who still swear by flood, thus there are still people that flood even where a pivot would be better.

I have not actually run the math on this but i can tell you no matter what ever the added value a pivot has, that value is built into the land price, i.e. you have land with a pivot (or advertised as pivot ready meaning very suitable for a pivot) the land is much more valuable. thus "trading land" for better suitable land for a pivot is tough, it is not gonna be acre for acre. In cash rent is sc ne, it works like this...flood 110-135 an acre, pivot 145-165 an acre, and that is for all the acres, not just those covered by the pivot, so irrigated acre cost is much higher.

i would also add that in alot of cases whether any piece of ground has a pivot depends on the financial status of the farmer or landlord...

brad
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-06-2007, 10:51 PM
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

There are getting to be a few more linears here in Alberta. While the concept is great (no dry corners) there are limitations. Either you have to have flat enough land to have a ditch running down the middle of your field to pump from or you have to bury a pipe with risers sticking out every so often for your drag hose to hook to. This hose can be only so long and large depending how much water your pivot is putting out. The cart has to be able to pull the hose full of water. The hose has to be moved from riser to riser as the linear goes down the field. (you need a good quad or small tractor for this) The hose also limits your pumping efficiency especially linears with fairly high gallon output. Priced one out and it didn't make sense to me. My two bits
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-07-2007, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

Farmboy, I assume your figure of $35 of cost per acre per year is for water, fuel, and maintenance. How many dollars per acre per year is the cost of depreciation on the pivot? How many years is the life expectancy on a pivot, and how much did it cost when new?

When you put up a half mile system with the hope of buying the other half of the section it is on, is there any possibility of sharing the cost with the owner of the other halfof the section so that the pivot can be fully utilized from day one? I know not everyone can get along with all of their neighbors, but...

-Lance
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-07-2007, 05:50 AM
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

I know of people who have had difficulty keeping the water up to some crops when using a full circle pivot... I would assume that if you were using a half circle pivot that you would be able to cover the ground more quickly and thus reducing the risk of moisture stress if there was a dry spell, which has been more common place in the last few years..
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-07-2007, 06:55 AM
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

This would be especially relevant on the big pivots CropHawk, particularly in moisture sensitive crops like potatoes or processing peas. Guys here have found with smaller towable pivots (of say 40 acres), that 3 circles per machine is really stretching things (especially in moisture sensitive crops).

Crops like processing peas need small amounts applied constantly, especially nearing harvest (to ensure even maturity). With big pivots this is not achievable, so growers usually split the pivot into wedges (1/2 or quarters). Soil type can play a big part as well (on lighter soils it can almost be like hydroponics LOL).
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-07-2007, 05:28 PM
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Re: Silly irrigation question from a dryland guy

Lance,

We have a wiper pivot that is only 70 acres. Yes, it takes twice as long to pay for itself, but it could be done with the price of pivots 10 years ago. Now, I'm not sure, we haven't put any in recently.

Another limiting factor around here is water availability. (or lack thereof). If you find a field that has enough water to run a pivot (Generally 800GPM or more is best for a full circle) then you are stuck with whatever obstacles that field may have. The next quarter over probably doesn't have enough water available to put in a pivot. I would say where I am at, less than 5% of the ground has the ability to drill a large enough well to irrigate.
Beyond that, if you find a place that does look to be irrigatable, the water resource board (allocates water use permits) has all but shut off installation of new pivots by not awarding permits. As urban water usage goes up, the aquifers become over pumped etc.

As farmboy said, we just can't grow corn without water. Dryland corn might make 100 bushels 2 years out of 10 here. With water we can get 170-200 depending on the year. My neighbors in western KS can get well over 200, although their water is much deeper and pumping costs are subsequently higher. So the choice becomes grow wheat or put in a pivot an repeatedly grow good corn and beans, with the only uncontrollable variable being acts of nature like hail. (which you can insure for)

CropHawk,

Actually a full circle is better for watering the crop in my opinion. On a full circle making a 3 day revolution, the pivot is back to where it started in 3 days, and running continuous wherever it is at any given time has been dry for 3 days.

A 270 Degree wiper pivot set to water the same rate will make it from stop to stop in a little over 2 days. Then it reverses and double waters where it just came from, takes 2 days to make it back to the starting point, which now has been dry for 4 + days. They are also more of a pain from getting stuck since they double water when they reverse. To reduce this problem we end up running them faster, putting on less water per pass which is not as good as running slow and soaking things up good.

Hope this was useful info for you Lance. I always like someone who is interested in how someone else does things.

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