These steps will ensure irrigation success next spring
Taking simple maintenance measures into consideration will translate to financial opportunities in the long run.
Your irrigation system is a lot like a faithful farm dog. It doesn’t ask for much beyond a few checkups and TLC, yet it gives you back more peace of mind throughout the year.
While it’s hard to give your pivot span an appreciative hug, you can easily throw it a bone this winter in the form of a thorough inspection by your irrigation dealer. That will help ensure it survives freezing temperatures and harsh weather to get crops up and running in the spring.
"We encourage it as a very vital part to the success of their farm and their operation," explains Clark Bauer, U.S. sales manager, T-L Irrigation.
Many dealers offer an off-season preventive maintenance program to ensure your machine is in top condition before the irrigation season, notes John Kastl, product manager for equipment at Valley Irrigation.
The caveat to winter pivot maintenance, as with any upkeep program, is that you must do it correctly. Dealers who represent a manufacturer are factory-trained on the service of the equipment and can perform more exhaustive multipoint inspections from one end of the machine to the other. This ensures each maintenance point is checked and the machine is ready for service, says Kirk Biddle, national sales director for irrigation, Lindsay Corporation. The owner’s manual includes helpful recommendations about service intervals that should be followed closely.
"If you are making the effort to prep your pivot for winter, be sure all components are put back into place when you are finished," adds Tony Burks, a Lindsay dealer with TN&W Irrigation in Manito, Ill. "Leaving loose plugs, hoses or fittings will lead to setbacks in the spring when it is time to wake up your pivots again."
Taking such simple measures into consideration will translate to financial opportunities in the long run.
"You’ll actually save money relative to not doing maintenance," Kastl notes.
In no particular order, here are several steps you should ask your dealer to perform when looking over your irrigation equipment.
Inspect joints and tires. Make sure pivot points are greased for smooth operation, says Neil Lunzmann, eastern U.S. sales director, Reinke Manufacturing. Such basic steps add to the lifetime of the machine and speak to the quality of irrigation systems. "Pivots are pretty low maintenance," he adds.
Additionally, check air pressure in tires and inflate them as needed to minimize field ruts. Tires can also be pumped up fully in the spring. "If you have a low tire, you’re going to have the potential to ruin that tire and have a stuck pivot," Bauer explains.
Inspect the lug nuts on all tires to be sure they’re tight, Kastl adds. Take a quick look at your tires and replace those that have cracked badly because of weather damage. Look at span boots to be sure that they are not dry and cracked and that the clamps are in good condition.
- November 2013