Choose the Right Sprinkler for Your Center Pivot

by Kelly Schultze | Oct 09, 2015
  • water application
  • center pivot irrigation
  • sprinklers
  • sprinkler
sprinkler - center pivot irrigation

Precise water application is the key to maximizing yields and making the most of your resources. However, choosing the right irrigation sprinkler package for center pivots can be difficult with so many sprinkler options and several external factors to consider. From soil type, crop type, and climate, to individual field characteristics, it’s important to know how each factor may impact your sprinkler selection.

Soils can be disrupted by the wrong droplet size and dispersion pattern. For example, if you have clayey soil, you know that it has small particles and pores. Because of these factors, your soil has a low infiltration rate and high water-holding capacity, which means that your soil requires small water droplets. If you were to apply large water droplets to clayey soil, you run the risk of disrupting your soil, resulting in soil compaction or losing valuable nutrients to run-off. By matching your machine’s sprinklers to your soil’s needs, you can minimize soil disruption and work with the soil’s water holding capacity to create an irrigation schedule that takes advantage of irrigation benefits.

The ideal sprinkler will produce the largest possible water droplets for your soil type. When sprinklers throw the largest droplets possible, the appropriate amount of water infiltrates your soil, and because larger droplets equal more weight, you are less likely to lose valuable irrigation water to pesky wind drift.

Crop type and climate will also play into your sprinkler selection. Many sprinklers now come designed for irrigating a specific crop; variation in application pattern and dispersal radius match different crops’ unique irrigation needs. With a wide variety of water requirements, some crops may need more frequent or longer applications of water in order to provide the proper root zone water requirements for each crop type. This is important because something as small as using the right sprinkler specifically made for the crop you grow provides big benefits, like a healthier crop and larger yield potential.

For more information on sprinklers, and how to find the right one for your needs, check out our Sprinkler Selection course or any of our other sprinkler courses on irrigation.education! Get started with your free irrigation.education account and ​check out our course catalog.

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