Winter means downtime for sprinklers. As the new growing season approaches (in North America), it is important to get your machine ready, and the sprinkler package is a key item to focus on.
Here are some tips to get your sprinkler package into tip-top shape:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Watch for leaks from the sprinkler, pressure regulator, and drop components when running the machine with water. Replace broken or damaged components.
4. 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 that the end pressure is sufficient to operate the pressure regulators. All pressure regulators require 5 PSI over the nominal pressure rating that is stamped on the regulator. For example, a 10 PSI pressure regulator requires 15 PSI 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 varies based on water quality issues, such as using clean water or dirty water, and whether the water includes sand or other debris. At 10,000 hours, wear in the sprinkler nozzle, sprinkler wear plate, and pressure regulator will alter the sprinkler flow rate and water pattern distribution, which reduces the sprinkler package uniformity.
New sprinkler components - combined with a properly designed complete sprinkler package - ensure uniformity and efficiency are at the highest possible values. High uniformity and efficiency ensure that you are maximizing yields from the valuable water you apply during the season.
To summarize, your 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.