Your Top Pivot Installation Questions Answered by a Zimmatic Dealer
May 11, 2022
When it comes to installing pivots, Bryan Smith, at Zimmatic™ dealer New Way Irrigation, knows a thing or two. He knows how to assess your land; he knows what local and federal government permissions you need; he knows the construction process; and he knows how to get the most out of your pivot irrigation system once it’s installed. And lucky for you, he’s sharing answers to the top eight questions that can help you prepare for a seamless and successful pivot installation.
1) Will my land need to be inspected?
In short, yes. Your Zimmatic dealer will need to come out and evaluate your land before doing anything else. This assessment includes looking at your water source to ensure it can support a pivot and irrigate crops properly, your fuel source and the topography. It also means paying special attention to any high and low areas that might affect flow rates.
“Part of the Zimmatic pivot design process is determining what will work and what is the best solution for your land,” Bryan advises. “We need all of this information to do our software drawings and for the grower to do the planning on their end.”
2) What permissions will I need before installation can begin?
This depends on where you live. Talk to your power provider to make sure they can supply the power you will need. You may also need to classify your land for irrigation suitability through the government and get the water rights to divert water for the pivot system. If your system requires cutting through a neighbor’s land or government land, you may also need to acquire easements allowing for it.
These permissions can get very complicated very quickly. “That’s why it’s best for customers to come to us during the conception stage,” Bryan says. “It’s a good time [for the dealer] to go out and meet with them and give them a little bit of direction before they contact these government agencies.”
Your irrigation dealer may create an evaluation report after assessing your land to help simplify the process too. It should contain all the information about your land needed for submitting any requests.
3) Can I help with the construction?
As soon as all permissions are acquired and a contract is signed, your irrigation dealer will order the parts so construction can begin. You can be as involved or hands-off with the construction as you want.
“Some customers want to handle aspects of the installation themselves,” Bryan says. “They may want to put in the pipe. They may want to pour their concrete pads. They might have an electrician they use. It depends on what the customer wants.”
4) What should my application rate be?
This depends on your soil, crop and topography. It’s common for new pivot owners to run their irrigation system too slow, which results in a lot of runoff. A good dealer will know your land well enough to guide you through determining the best application rate for you and your system. If you have a Zimmatic 700C or 712C control panel, you can also use FieldNET to remotely monitor your pivot or program it to change speeds.
“We always go out with the grower on the initial startup to flush the system, and we guide them through the operation of the system. We can provide recommendations on watering, too,” Bryan says. “I always advise farmers on how much water to apply and when, and give them an idea of how much the crop is using.”
5) What about wheel track management?
It’s important to keep wheel tracking in mind, especially when it comes to your crop and soil type. Your dealer should be keeping an eye out when assessing your land and can give you a heads up if they notice any issues or challenges.
“We try to look at drainage to minimize wheel tracks when we know from the get-go where we’re going to have problems,” Bryan advises. “Some clients bring in shale or gravel to try to minimize the wheel track depth in problem areas, but it really depends on the farm.”
A good rule of thumb for any new pivot is to first run a dry circle, and then a couple of light applications to try to really pack the wheel track. Then you can start doing your regular applications.
6) Are my sprinklers operating correctly?
Just because your pivot is running doesn’t always mean your sprinklers are working properly. This happens most often when there’s a buildup of debris on the regulators, which can plug sprinklers, contaminate your water supply and affect your yield.
“That’s something we see quite regularly,” Bryan says. “Plugged nozzles too. Just keep an eye on the system, particularly new installations because you can get a lot of debris buildup during construction as well as from your water source.”
To check for this, turn your system off and go to the end of the pivot since that’s where the debris tends to build up the most. Pull off the regulator and clear the debris out, then start working your way back down your pivot to check the rest of the regulators.
7) Is there regular maintenance I should be doing on my pivot?
Walk down your pivot at least once or twice a season doing a simple visual inspection to make sure everything looks good. You want to primarily keep an eye out for loose bolts or wires. This is also a great time to look for flat tires. And you will need to change the oil.
According to Bryan, having a Zimmatic pivot can make a big difference when it comes to needing repairs or Genuine Lindsay replacement parts, “We can get parts and perform repairs much faster on Zimmatic products because of the commonality of their parts. It’s been very beneficial for our customers.”
8) Does my dealer offer any post-installation services?
All Zimmatic dealers support customers with after-sales support and service. At New Way Irrigation, they even host service schools with free training where they walk growers through things like FieldNET, tower boxes and maintenance of your pivot.
Whether you’re looking to install a new Zimmatic pivot irrigation system or just have questions, your local Zimmatic dealer is always here to help!