For much of the Corn Belt it’s time for center pivots to start running as the summer heats up. Do you know how to calibrate your pivots? Here is a simple way to make sure your pivots are putting down as much water as you want them to.
“So, if we're going to set up to really study pivot calibrations and get the uniformity across to pivot from end to end it can be a pretty simple process,” Farm Journal Agronomist Missy Bauer says on the most recent episode of Farm Journal College TV adding that the only tools you need are a set of “catch can cups” and a graduated cylinder. Bauer’s “catch can cups” are simple beverage cups attached to wooden dowel rods. Be sure they are all the same diameter.
Pivot Calibration In Four Easy Steps
1. Set up the cups and write them down on a piece of paper. According to Bauer, they should be 10 feet apart. “We want to mark where the pivot towers are [on the paper] as well. So that if we start to have issues with application in uniformity across here we have references to which tower it's by and how many feet [it is] from that tower,” she explains.
2. Set the pivot’s flow. “You're going to set the pivot itself for whatever inches of rain you'd typically put on,” she says.
3. Let the pivot run over the cups. “So we turn the pivot on have it run for a good 10 minutes before it ever gets to here catch can cups,” she says. Once the pivot goes past the cups, it's time collect them.
4. Measure the water in each cup. Use a graduated cylinder to measure how much water made it into each “catch can cup.” “I'm going to pour the water in from each cup and I'm going to just simply read and take a measurement,” she says. Once you’ve written down all of the measurements you will know which sections of the pivot need to be adjusted.
Watch Bauer demonstrate pivot calibration in the video above.