Are center pivots expensive?
The cost of Valley® equipment is widely misunderstood. When compared to other irrigation technologies, such as drip and solid set, the cost of center pivots is usually less, including installation and service. Plus, Valley brand equipment can last 25-35 years, depending upon care and water quality.
I have all of this existing "stuff" (i.e. concrete ditches, pipelines, pumps, sprinklers, etc.), and it has worked well over the years. Why would I want to invest in something new?
Your existing irrigation method may have served you well, but the need to conserve water and decrease dependence on traditional labor resources are forcing change, and will continue to do so. Adopting center pivot or linear irrigation may solve many of the issues facing your business. Ask your local Valley dealer if you can use any of the existing infrastructure if you convert.
What kind of labor savings could I expect?
The savings will vary depending on the irrigation method you use now and the crop you will grow. Let's consider a 160 acre row crop, such as carrots, that is irrigated with solid set sprinkler pipe and portable mainline. The layout of the equipment and removal for the duration of the crop can be as much as $250/acre, not counting equipment rental, field machinery, and damage to the pipe and fittings for each season on a single crop. Now, add the cost of labor to run the system at another $150/acre. In contrast, four center pivots (520 acres) can be easily operated by one person on a part-time basis.
What is the water savings potential?
Water savings can exceed 50%, when comparing flood to center pivot or linear irrigation, and 20-35% when comparing center pivots and linears to other sprinkler systems, such as hand line, side roll, and solid set. Using the special water application management known as Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA), center pivot or linear irrigation can stand on par with the most advanced low-volume systems.
How do I encourage my landlord to invest?
Have him crunch the numbers. Labor savings, water savings, improved crops, and the 25-35* year life of the machine make center pivots and linears a solid investment. Along with saying goodbye to land leveling, Valley center pivots and linears significantly conserve water and help achieve more uniform yields.
*Maintenance and water quality can, and will, affect the lifespan of all equipment.
How can a center pivot or linear benefit my dairy operation?
Valley center pivots and linears effectively and uniformly manage nutrients, as well as efficiently and uniformly utilize wash water. Center pivots and linears reduce, or may even eliminate, the need for surface water discharge. Reusing the water to grow crops (namely, alfalfa) allows for feed production, so expenses may be reduced for alternative means of getting feed.
Isn't drip irrigation better suited for California?
In some instances, drip irrigation may be the right solution for your needs, but there are many fields, crops, and soils that perform better with overhead irrigation, plus reduce dependence on labor. Issues regarding row spacing, flushing plugged emitters, and subsurface soil work are nonexistent with center pivots and linears. A well-designed Valley sprinkler package and irrigation management are keys to success.
How long does it take a crew to install a center pivot?
It can vary. For example, a standard 1/4 mile, 130-acre center pivot can be unloaded and set up* in two days by a four-man crew. Pivot pad and wiring will add some time, but, in many cases, are done at the same time as the initial installation by other workers.
*Water accessibility and pump not included.
The soils in California have unique conditions. Have center pivots or linears been proven to work on them?
California does have some unique soil and growing conditions, but with a careful eye on soil preparation, sprinkler package, and equipment enhancements (i.e.: floatation options and irrigation scheduling), center pivots or linears can produce better crops with reduced labor and significant water savings in most situations. It's important to know your soil contents prior to planning your irrigation design.
I don't have electricity to my field, so how could I run a center pivot or linear?
The electricity required to run a center pivot or linear is fairly low, and, in most cases, can be generated with a small diesel or natural gas engine. Ask your local Valley dealer for recommendations.
We have had issues with corrosive water damaging our systems. Is there a way to protect the pipe from corrosive water?
Corrosive water has been observed in many parts of the country. If corrosive water is expected, we suggest that you send a water sample to Valley prior to any center pivot design being completed. Valley will provide a FREE water analysis and present the qualified pipe choices. Valley PolySpan® has been the choice for many growers with dairy waste and salinity issues.