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Irrigation Watertronics Control System Automates Water Allocation

Hunt Farms near Oak Grove, Kentucky, taps into natural springs in the area to feed several center pivots. Unfortunately, the three pumps that tapped into three separate channels that feed the spring weren’t sharing the load equally, explains Brandon Hunt, the third generation involved in the operation.

“Up until three years ago, we were running three diesel engines with a centrifugal 1,000-gpm pump on each output shaft,” Hunt explains. “Each had a suction pipe that went down into a main underground stream channel that pulled the water through the pump and into the underground pipes to the pivots.” The spring supplies seven of the 12 pivots that now dot the farm’s fields.

how to spread water supplies

Although the system worked well for several years, there came a time, with the addition of more pivots, that one of the spring’s main arteries was being overloaded. 

“We had more pivots on that one main than we could supply with a single pump,” he explains. “We were constantly having to juggle the schedule so we could be timely with the rotation and still supply each field with water when needed. If the pivot on a field required 1,000 gpm, we could run one pivot. Even if it required 700 gpm, we could still run just one pivot.”

The problems were compounded even more on hot, dry days when the corn was tasseling. Hunt says a pivot on 250 acres could barely get around the circle fast enough to cool down the crop when it was time to start around again, let alone supply another center pivot.

“When we upgraded to the Watertronics system, it enabled us to put all our pumping in one spot,” he says. “The system still incorporates three pumps, but they’ve all been moved to one main supply discharge. That discharge then connects to a manifold, and all the underground pipes tie into that manifold. All I have to do is turn on the valve, and I can send up to 4,000 gpm wherever I want to send it.”

Lindsay Irrigation’s Watertronics utilizes a variable-frequency drive that is sequenced between all the main pumps to provide the required amount of flow.

The system also includes a set of electronic butterfly valves to deliver consistent pressure as pumps are added or dropped off. Depending on how many pivots are drawing from the system, one, two, or all three pumps will automatically come on and add flow. 

remote operation

The other benefit of the Watertronics unit is that it allows Hunt to monitor and control the pumps from his phone or computer via the same FieldNET web-based control system that he uses to control and monitor the pivots.

In addition to being able to start and stop the pumping system, he can monitor pressure, flow, inlet pressure, water level, and power usage. 

“I will typically run four to five pivots at a time,” Hunt says. “Our water source fluctuates just like anyone else’s. It never goes dry, but it does decrease production in dry years. Yet, even when that happens, we have more control over flow and pressure than we ever did before,” he says. “Putting in the pumping system is probably one of the best things we’ve ever done.” 

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