Spring planting is just around the corner, so for producers with irrigation systems, now is a good time to do some maintenance on their systems. One of the most important pieces of equipment to have operating flawlessly, pass after pass, is your centre pivot. The simplest way to avoid nuisance breakdowns and component wear is to stay on top of machine maintenance, especially at the start of your irrigation season.  With a centre pivot comprising of mechanical, electrical and sprinkler components, there is a lot than can go wrong if it is not properly maintained. Annual centre pivot maintenance can enhance the efficiency of the irrigation applications as well as the safety of the system.  Some of these systems are older, so it is important to make sure to maintain them and look for potential problem areas.  It is good practice to do the following maintenance at the start, middle and end of each irrigation season.  Before any maintenance is conducted, it is of utmost importance that the electrical supply to the machine is turned off.

Mechanical maintenance

Maintenance of the structure and drivetrain is a top priority as damage to structural components can not only be costly but also time consuming and difficult to repair when your crop is established and growing well.

  • Check all nuts and bolts and tighten as required
  • Grease pivot swivel
  • Check tire pressure
  • Check drive shaft U-joints and U-joint covers
  • Drain and replace centre motor lubricant
  • Check change gearbox lubricant
  • Check centre drive seals and gaskets
  • Check gearbox seals and gaskets
  • Check and tighten wheel nuts
  • Check overhang cables for broken cable strands

After completing all these basic checks, it is important to ensure that all structural components are in a sound condition, with no fatigue stress signs or any galvanized components nearing the end of their lifetime.

Electrical Maintenance

A centre pivot utilizes electrical power to drive the centre drives and the electrical circuit controls and protects the operation of a centre pivot.  Small electrical faults can prevent the machine from operating and cause a machine to lose its safety but not shut down, creating an opportunity for large scale structural damage.

  • Check equipment grounding
  • Check collector ring base drain for proper drainage
  • Visually check pivot contactors for arcing
  • Visually check for contactor wear
  • Visually check suppressor connection
  • Align machine and check all safety switches
  • Check for proper safety microswitch position
  • Check power cable for damage
  • Check motor lead cable for damage

While completing these checks it is also important to ensure that all electrical connections are in good condition.

Sprinkler Maintenance

While proper maintenance of your mechanical and electrical components lessens the probability of breakdowns during irrigation, maintenance of your sprinkler package ensures uniform irrigation over the length of the machine.

  • Check the pivot pressure to make sure it matches the sprinkler package pressure
  • Check sprinkler for free movement
  • Check sprinkler nozzles for wear
  • Check pressure gauge or pressure transducer for proper operation
  • Check for plugged or partially plugged nozzles

Sprinklers and regulators have a lifetime of between 5000-10000 hours depending on your water quality.  Perform a uniformity test on your sprinkler package at least once every 5000 hours.

A centre pivot is a costly, but convenient part of your farm’s irrigation. It is often left behind when maintenance is done on a farm. Perform maintenance frequently to ensure proper operation of the machine, lessening the chance of down time during your most critical irrigation cycles.  A uniform sprinkler package, with working regulators and sprinklers is non negotiable for obtaining your desired yield.

Do contact myself or any of our irrigation designers regarding any questions you might have about maintenance on your centre pivot.