Zimmatic Blog

8 Pre-Season Center Pivot Maintenance Tips to Reduce Downtime

Apr 1, 2022

8 Pre-Season Center Pivot Maintenance Tips to Reduce Downtime

Is your irrigation system ready for the growing season?

While pivots may be rugged and reliable machines, it is still a good idea to complete routine, pre-season pivot maintenance to keep them at their best. Things like harsh environments, tough weather conditions and colder winter temps can take their toll on your irrigation system, no matter how durable it is. So, let’s talk about where to begin when it comes to your pre-season maintenance.

8 maintenance tips for your pivot system

Think of the below tips like a pre-season pivot maintenance checklist. With each check and evaluation, you’re one step closer to making sure your pivot is ready to go when the growing season arrives. That not only helps minimize downtime, but it can even help extend the overall lifespan of your machine.

While most of the tasks on our list are basic maintenance items, it’s still important to refer to the owner’s manual for your specific pivot system—like the Zimmatic Center Pivot Operational Manual.

If you’re ready to go, here’s where to start with your pre-season maintenance.

1. Check gearbox and center drive oil levels

Many growers only think of draining their pivot system when it comes to winterizing their machine. Think of draining pipes, pumps, valves and so on. But really, draining any accumulated water in gearboxes and center drives should be preventive maintenance that’s done routinely.

You’ll also want to check the oil levels and top off with the appropriate gear oil for either your gearboxes or center drives. Maintaining the proper level will prevent excessive gear wear and prolong bearing life of gearboxes. And when it comes to center drives, it’s important to only fill to the levels indicated as overfilling could cause seal failure.

2. Grease the pivot point

Being outside in the elements every day around the clock can wear you down—and pivots are no exception. By lubricating or greasing pivot points, you can help your system move more freely during operation. Think of it as loosening up the joints. You’ll want to do this once every season or after every 1,000 hours of operation depending on which comes first. While you’re greasing the pivot point, make sure the pivot ell is securely connected and any drain plugs have been reinserted too.

3. Check bolts

Take a close look at the bolts of your pivot system. Loose bolts can cause unnecessary stress on the system during the season or even cause the entire system to fall over. If you notice any movement or looseness, you’ll want to tighten it up now.

4. Inspect drivelines

Worn joints and driveline bolts are easy to repair at the beginning of the season, but they can be a real headache in the middle of a wet field and a growing crop. So, the earlier the better when it comes to this checklist item.

5. Check the tire pressure

Your pivot system won’t be able to work as hard for you with deflated tires. So, be sure to check for the correct tire pressure during the pre-season. This helps maintain adequate flotation and prevent excessive gearbox wear. And while you’re checking the tires, take a look to make sure the wheels and any lug nuts are tightened.

6. Check end guns

If your pivot system is equipped with an end gun, make sure all plumbing is intact and appears to be in good working condition. You’ll also want to check for any rodent damage and tubing degradation.

7. Check sprinkler nozzles

Inspect your entire system for missing or damaged sprinklers that could create inefficiencies in the system’s water application and negatively affect irrigation performance. If you find any, be sure to repair or replace them as needed before the season starts.

8. Update your tech

Beyond just turning on your system and making sure all the electrical is working, you’ll also want to make sure your technology is running on the latest software. If you use a remote management solution like FieldNET, you’ll want to be sure everything is set up and ready to deliver the data and recommendations come time!

For more information about preseason maintenance or if you need replacement parts or help with electrical issues, contact your local Zimmatic dealer.