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Centre Pivot Irrigation: Everything You Need to Know

Water is one of the most important aspects of farming. It is why civilisations have gravitated towards settling close to water sources for centuries. However, rain and the availability of water can not always be controlled. This uncertainty has been and continues to be a struggle for farmers. Luckily the invention of irrigation has eased this struggle. There are many types of irrigation systems including drip, surface, sprinkler, localised, lateral move, sub-, manual, and centre pivot irrigation.

This article will focus on centre pivot irrigation systems, what their benefits are and what the cost of such a system would be.


What is a Centre Pivot Irrigation System?

A centre pivot irrigation system (also referred to as a circle irrigation system), is a popular agricultural watering system. It is a way to ensure that a farmer's crop receives the correct amount of water, especially when an area is experiencing drought. It also sees to it that all of the plants within a crop receive the same amount of water; thus, creating irrigation uniformity. Crops that are watered using a centre pivot irrigation system are circular.


Components that Make Up a Centre Pivot Irrigation System

Centre pivot irrigation systems are made up of multiple components that ensure the pipe structure can rotate around the central pivot and irrigate the crop in an even and circular motion. The basic components consist of:

  • A Pivot: This is a structure that consists of three cross braces that are internally mounted. This structure rotates around the central pivot point.
  • The Drive Units: There are two types of drive units. One is known as the drive tower and the other is the last regular drive unit (LRDU). A drive tower is the part of the system that touches the ground and allows for movement. The LRDU is the last drive tower and signifies the end of the system or can be used as a connector to extend the system.
  • The Span: This refers to the pipes that run between the drive units. The water that is distributed runs in these pipes and they contain the sprinklers that spray the water onto the crops.
  • Tower Box: Every drive unit has a tower box which houses the controls that tell the system what to do. For example, the tower box would indicate when the sprinklers turn on and for how long the system runs.
  • Control Panel: This is connected to the centre pivot point and is a programmable computer that runs the system.


What Are Centre Pivot Irrigation Systems Used for?

Centre pivot irrigation systems are not only used to water crops. They are also used to administer pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, and fertilisers. A crop needs all of these elements to thrive. Without fertiliser, the ground might not have enough nutrients to properly “feed” the crop. If pesticides arent sprayed, pests can infest a crop and destroy it. Thus, to ensure that a farmer has a yield that is worthwhile, they must ensure that they make use of all of the functionalities of a centre pivot irrigation system.


Benefits of a Centre Pivot Irrigation System

There are multiple benefits to a centre pivot irrigation system that makes it a preferred and popular irrigation option. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduced Labour: There are a number of other surface irrigation systems that require more manual labour. Thus, a centre pivot irrigation system is more effective and frees workers up to perform other tasks.
  • Water Wise: Due to the way it has been designed, a centre pivot irrigation system uses and wastes less water.
  • Cost-Effective: As less manual labour is required, one does not have to employ as many workers, meaning one can save on extra salaries. The fact that less water is used will also save on monthly expenses.
  • Reduced Tillage: Less soil tillage occurs which encourages healthier soil due to less erosion.


Centre Pivot Irrigation Prices in South Africa

Centre pivot irrigation systems are pricier than some other options. However, due to the long term costs that are saved, it is a good investment. Senter360 is an irrigation company that sells and installs these and other irrigation systems. To find out more about irrigation and what the best options are for your crops, visit the AgrifoodSA directory 


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