How to Prepare Your Irrigation Operation for the Growing Season
Jan 17, 2023
As a farmer, ensuring your irrigation system is ready for the upcoming growing season is crucial in achieving a successful harvest. But preparing your system doesn't only mean pre-season maintenance or repairs.
While those are essential to helping minimize downtime during the season, there are plenty of other steps to prepare your pivot irrigation system – and your operation – for efficient and effective irrigation. In doing so, you’ll pave the way for greater yields and savings.
Whether you’re already in the midst of preparing your irrigation system or are just getting started, take a look at some of these steps that may be worth adding to your growing season prep list.
1) Inspect your irrigation system
While this step may go without saying, it’s an important one to include. Your pivot irrigation system goes through a lot during the season, like any of your farming equipment, and then goes dormant. After months of potentially no or limited use, a pre-season evaluation can help uncover any hidden issues now, so you’re ready to go when the growing season starts.
From checking tire pressure and oil levels to sprinkler nozzles and pivot points, there are a few key pre-season pivot maintenance checklist items to cover. In addition to your pivots, also be sure to look at your pumps, plumbing, panels and anything else associated with your water management and irrigation system.
2) Look at your data from last season
Data has become an invaluable tool for growers. It can help make decisions based on real-time information and analytics. It can provide peace of mind and confidence. It can even help pinpoint issues earlier or discover crop needs you may not be able to see.
Our award-winning FieldNET™ remote irrigation management and FieldNET Advisor scheduling technologies are a perfect example of this. Growers can learn more about their operations – from crop performance to center pivot performance – than ever. And that data can be used to prepare your irrigation system for a smart and sustainable crop season in 2023.
Not sure how to maximize your end-of-season irrigation data? Check out our article on data dos and don’ts.
3) Evaluate your soil health
What does your soil tell you? Is it at optimal health to produce high yields? How could the current soil health impact your irrigation needs for the upcoming growing season?
Data can help answer these questions, so you can make more informed decisions about your irrigation, crop production and nutrient needs. It also can help you tailor your irrigation program to your soil’s conditions.
4) Improve nutrient management
When testing the health of your soil, you may notice an opportunity to improve your nutrient management. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, nutrient needs are dependent on your land, what crops you grow and so forth.
However, evaluating and planning for smart nutrient management not only helps maximize yields and help minimize excess nutrients that lead to nitrogen losses. It can also reduce your input costs, which could be huge with rising fertilizer costs, for example.
5) Upgrade your irrigation system
As you conduct maintenance, review your data and evaluate your land, you may decide that your irrigation system needs upgrading. This could mean adding irrigation tech to your current system. It could also mean working with a Zimmatic dealer to expand your system or install a completely new smart irrigation solution. Or, it might mean new tracking solutions like the airless NFTrax® wheels that can help minimize soil disruption and reduce track depth.
No matter what you ultimately decide, completing these five steps (or most of them) will ensure your irrigation system is ready to hit the ground running as soon as the season starts. As always, your local Zimmatic dealer is available to answer any questions or troubleshoot any concerns with your pivot irrigation system.
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