A French Farmer Develops a Removal Sprinkler with Height-Adjustable Drop Cane

Laurent Deyres and his brother Didier farm 800 hectares at Porge (Gironde), in France, with 95% of the cultivated area irrigated by pivot and lateral move machines. The water, which is very ferruginous in this region, damages the spans and clogs the sprinklers. Laurent Deyre has come up with a solution that enables this problem to be resolved and facilitates maintenance.

Laurent Deyres father started the farm in 1978 with 60 hectares of corn crops. He reinvested everything he earned each year to buy more land. When he passed away in 1989 and transferred the property to his sons, the farm had no less than 340 hectares.

Laurent Deyres explained: “I got into irrigation at 14 years of age. Prior to that we had hose reels/ travelling guns that were moved with a cable. The first pivots arrived soon afterwards in 1981 and 1982”. And he added: “Today the farm has 22 pivots, 13 lateral moves machines representing 157 spans and 1,500 sprinklers”.

Thirty years ago, the Deyres’s farm grew one single crop (it only produced maize or corn), then it progressively diversified into beans, carrots and soybean and a part of the land was converted to an organic farming system. Of the 800 hectares under cultivation, between 200 and 250 hectares were farmed organically, particularly part of the tomato, soybean and sweet corn.

For some years now, the organic system has been breaking down completely and Laurent is in the process of gradually bringing it to a close and revert to the conventional farming method again. “My nephew recovered 70 hectares after clearing the forest and going organic, which is compulsory after clearing land. He now finds himself in a very difficult situation”, explained Mr. Deyres.

Initially, the Deyres bought pivots of the Otech brand. Laurent Deyres then opted for the Valley brand because the American manufacturer provided pivots with internal polyethylene liners that protect the span pipes against the damage caused by ferruginous water. Furthermore, the Valley pivots, fitted with an Icon5 panel, offer a very efficient remote control system. The manufacturer also provides multi-operator telephone cards for the phones. Thus, when the network is poor, the users can choose the operator with the best reception.

“However, I don’t use the remote control very much because I have to drive around my farm every day anyway to check that the sprinklers are not clogged”, explained Laurent Deyres. He covers 200 kilometres every day with his 4 x 4.

In fact, the suppliers’ warranty policy for the Polyspan liner technology restricts the use of drop pipes with inverted spray heads so that the water does not become deposited in the spans, causing them damage. Although they have several advantages, the drop pipes with inverted spray heads or nozzles are more sensitive to clogging because of the accumulation of iron deposits in the sprinklers. “After 3 years, I had lots and lots of clogged sprinklers nozzles”, explained Laurent Deyres. The farmer was then forced to act and work on the pivot from a height, to unblock the sprinkler. “We had to work in pairs and bring a ladder with us”.


“When we switch off the pivot, some of the deposited particles settle in the bend formed by the pipe instead of finding their way to the sprinklers.

He continued: “One evening, 8 years ago, I was 4 meters high to clean the nozzles and I fell off. I was quite badly injured and put out of action for several months”.

Mr. Deyres has set up a system that prevents the clogging of the sprinklers and facilitates their unclogging.

To prevent the clogging of his sprinklers and to avoid accidents, Laurent has invented a customised system: he decided to revert to the upright system and lengthen the drop canes’ pipe so that it can be hooked on to a strut or truss with a support system, thus creating a bend in the pipe. He explained : “When we switch off the pivot, some of the deposited particles settle in the bend formed by the pipe instead of finding their way to the sprinklers.”

When the pivot is restarted, the deposits gradually drain away, reducing the incidence of clogging, and thus Laurent will have to visit the pivot less frequently.

He will, however, have to intervene sometimes because this system reduces the cases of clogging, but it does not eliminate the problem entirely.  However, he can now work on the pivot from the ground, thus avoiding any accidents: “I unhook the pipe with a pole, I lower it, unblock the sprinkler and then put it back where it was.” And he adds “Furthermore, it allows me to save on time because I can work on the pivot while it is still in operation, in the middle of the field”.

He has, therefore, decided to apply for a patent so as to be able to produce his invention en masse for the benefit of other farmers faced with the same problems as him. “It has to be produced industrially”, added Mr. Deyres.

He then contacted a Bordeaux-based organisation, TRANS-TEC, which helps other small inventors to have their inventions patented and the system was improved by incorporating the possibility of adjusting the drop pipes to different heights.

In fact, a study conducted by Inrae (French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment) has shown that adapting the height to the jet according to the weather conditions helps to reduce losses from wind drift and evaporation and, thus, it saves on water.

“I have adapted my system so as to be able to change the height of the sprinkler at any time” added Mr. Deyres.

To do that, he reversed the nozzle and attached it directly to the pipe, via two similar parts coupled by a bolt. The bolt creates a joint and thus the bend is preserved. The part can then slide along the pipe retained by a spring to change the height of the sprinkler and with this interconnection the sprinkler orientation can also be adjusted.

“Thus, it is possible to irrigate at a lower height, at 30 or 40 cm, and adjust it higher as the crop grows”, added Laurent Deyres.

In conclusion, the system has three advantages: apart from the accessibility of the sprinklers for unblocking the nozzles, Laurent Deyres’s system allows for savings on water to be made and it resolves the problem of water with a high iron concentration.

Laurent Deyres is now ready to install his solution on other farms. The manufacture of the parts has already been industrialised. He has been looking for partners to distribute his invention, which he has named “Detachable Polyvants EC’eau sprinklers”.