Winterizing Your Center Pivot
For irrigators, the growing season doesn’t end with harvest.
“Getting the pivots ready for winter should definitely be one of the items on your fall to-do list,” said Brad Dunbar, aftermarket manager at Lindsay Corporation. “Taking a few simple steps now will help your pivot remain in top operating condition for when it’s needed next season.”
Dunbar suggests working off the following checklist, provided by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, when prepping your machines for winter.
- If you have water quality issues, or if your well is pumping some sand, flush out the system.
- Clean the sand trap.
- Drain water from all aboveground pipes.
- Check for loose or damaged connections.
- Seal up openings to avoid rodent damage.
- Check the grounding connection and grounding rod.
- Check sprinkler chart for proper sprinkler placement.
- Check for worn or broken components, sprinklers and regulators – and replace them every 7,000 – 10,000 hours.
- Check boots, gaskets and mid-drains for leaks.
- Check span-to-span grounding connection.
- Drain water from gearboxes and top off with the proper lubricant.
- Check for oil leaks around seals on gearboxes.
- Check knuckles for wear and make sure shields are in place.
- Check the tire pressure.
- Fill wheel tracks in the fall, so they can firm up over the winter.
- Position system parallel to prevailing winds.
- Park on a level surface – not in an old track, so the system can expand/contract with the freezing temperatures.
- Lock and secure the system. If it’s turned on during the off-season without the grower’s knowledge, ice could build up and damage the pivot structure.
- Clean up vegetation around the pivot point and well.
- Make the space less inviting to rodents.
- Drain and clean pump and hoses.
Protection from Cattle
- If cattle are grazing on stalks, be sure to protect the system and pumping plant.
- Take time to note problems encountered during the growing season and make plans to repair or replace as needed before the next irrigation season.