Giving your irrigation system a thorough check-up and tune-up this spring can lead to more effective water application and potentially, to fewer breakdowns or problems during the heart of the irrigation season. It can also cut water use and energy costs.
Each irrigation system will have a number of areas to lubricate or parts that may need to be replaced before the first irrigation.
UNL Extension specialists Chuck Burr, Bill Kranz and Gary Zoubek outline the following 10 items to include on your irrigation system check-up:
•Change the engine oil and filter.
•Replace the air and fuel filters.
•Grease drive shafts on pump and motor.
•Check spark plugs on gas, propane, or natural gas motors.
•Drain, flush and refill the cooling system.
•Refill the drip oil reservoir and allow oil to drain into the drip line based on pump column length.
•Ensure that the right-angle gear head is free moving and clean and lubricate non-reverse pins.
•Run the motor at the normal operating speed for 45 minutes.
•Start the pump and walk along the system looking for malfunctioning sprinklers. Nozzle wear depends on the quality of the water and the system operating pressure. As a rule of thumb, sprinkler replacement should be considered after approximately 10,000-12,000 hours of operation. Be sure to replace malfunctioning nozzles with ones listed on the computer printout you received from the manufacturer.
•Check chemigation pump and safety equipment operation. Check hoses and replace if cracking is noticeable.
Performing a preseason checkup of your irrigation equipment this spring should be part of your regular maintenance schedule.
Component wear happens, resulting in less uniform water application, increased energy use, and untimely breakdowns during your irrigation season. Identify and replace worn components now to have your system ready when you need it.
One of the best ways to identify worn components such as sprinklers, pumps, or irrigation systems is to keep good records. Recording the outlet pressure, flow rate, hours of operation, and energy use each month provides an excellent means of evaluating pump and motor performance and identifying changes.
The pivot should be in the same position each time the operating pressure is recorded since the pump will produce different outlet pressures depending on whether it's facing uphill or downhill. Also, systems that do not have pressure regulators to maintain sprinkler pressure will have different flow rates. Compare the current flow rate and pressure to last year's and the years before.