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Cold weather can mean downtime for sprinklers. But as the 2012 growing season approaches, it’s important to get your machine ready and the sprinkler package is a key item to focus on.
Here are some tips to doing just that. As commodity prices remain high it’s vital to ensure your equipment and the sprinkler package is in tip-top shape to boost your yields.
- Use the sprinkler reports supplied with the sprinkler package and check that all sprinkler components are correct and installed in the proper location on the machine.
- Operate the sprinkler package (running the machine with water) and visually inspect all sprinklers to verify they are operating correctly. Inspect sprinklers for variations in the water pattern. Problems to look for are plugged nozzles or worn wear plates.
- Watch for leaks from the sprinkler, pressure regulator and drop components when running the machine with water. Replace broken or damaged components.
- Check that the operating pivot pressure matches the design pressure. For sprinkler packages with pressure regulators, Valley recommends placing a pressure gauge in the drop tube at the end of the machine at the highest elevation in the field to verify the end pressure is sufficient to operate the pressure regulators. All pressure regulators require 5 PSI (0.35 bar) over the nominal pressure rating that is stamped on the regulator. For example, a 10 PSI (0.69 bar) pressure regulator requires 15 PSI (1.03 bar) entering the regulator for proper operation.
Finally, don’t forget that at about 10 000 operating hours, growers should consider replacing sprinklers and pressure regulators. This will vary based on water quality issues such as using clean water or dirty water and whether the water includes sand or others debris. At this number of hours, wear in the sprinkler nozzle, sprinkler wear plate and pressure regulator will alter the sprinkler flow rate and water pattern distribution which will reduce the sprinkler package uniformity. New sprinkler components combined with a properly designed complete sprinkler package ensures uniformity and efficiency are the highest possible values, making sure that growers maximize yields from the valuable water that they apply during the season.
To summarize, the sprinkler package is one of the most critical components on a center pivot or linear machine – don’t be afraid to invest in new and updated technology.