Large areas of crops require a lot of water, and the job is tedious and labor-intensive. The need for a more efficient way to water was met by the invention of the center pivot irrigation system. Center pivot irrigation was invented in the late 1940s by Frank Zybach and continues to be a useful machine for farmers today. A center pivot irrigation system can stretch as long as a quarter of a mile and water up to 130 acres at a time.
The center pivot irrigation system is an electrically powered system that has many uses in maintaining crops. It is powered by either a generator or a public power source depending on its location. It also isn't always strictly used to water fields. It can be used to spread fertilizer, herbicides, and other chemicals over large areas, as well. Other common names for a center pivot irrigation system are water wheel or circle irrigation. This is because the machine releases the water or chemicals in a circular motion across the fields.
A center pivot irrigation system has several components that aide in its operation. The actual pivot point — which the system gets its name from — anchors the machine. There is also a control panel. As the name of the component suggests, this is the command center of the machine — it tells all of the other parts how to work and move. The spans contain the main water line and are located in between the drive units. Again, as the name suggests, the drive units are the wheels that help the machine move from location to location. Each drive unit also contains an electrical control box, which gets its commands from the main control panel. Each electrical control box receives directions from the command center and controls the movement of the machine.
There are several benefits to the utilization of a center pivot machine in the care of crops. Obviously, you can water a large area quickly. Beyond that, however, the crops are also watered evenly at specific times, which provides its own benefits. The use of the center pivot irrigation system also requires less labor, thus less labor cost. Due to water being more evenly distributed, there is less soil erosion — this means less need for continual tilling of the fields, which reduces runoff.
Not only is the use of a center pivot machine beneficial to more than farmers, but it is also beneficial to the consumers who purchase the crops that are grown.