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Agriculture.com Staff 07/11/2010 @ 11:00pm

Dave Mowitz
Successful Farming magazine Machinery Director

One of the 20th century's top labor-saving inventions -- the center pivot sprinkler -- is being paired up with what could be one of the twenty-first century's leading labor-saving advances -- telematics. The resulting breakthrough? Irrigators not only monitor but also control pivots remotely, thereby replacing hard-to-find hired hands.

Kurt Torell invested $3,000 per pivot (he operates 16 systems) plus a communication fee to upgrade the control panels on his sprinklers to allow telematic control.

"The investment paid for itself shortly," the Gresham, Nebraska, farmer says. "Without it, I would have had to hire an extra man and provide him with a pickup to check sprinklers daily."

Center pivot manufacturers offer various forms of telematic control of sprinkler equipment that work with radios, cell phones, and computers.The technology not only reports on pivot operation alerting farmers to problems but also gives producers control of all major functions. The technology allows remote control of related functions like chemigation.

Valley and Reinke have introduced GPS tracking to precisely track sprinkler movement.

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