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Innovative Center Pivot Accessories

Faced with water restrictions and sandy soil that quickly soaked up water applied in a furrow, Brian Lennemann of Franklin, Nebraska, recently decided to try another option. He had his local Valley dealer add a Bender30 to an existing 12-span pivot.

“The ideal solution would have been to take out all the trees within the circle and to run the pivot the full 360°,” Lennemann says. “However, we have a pasture down there where we keep around 350 head of cows during the winter until they calve in the spring.” He says the pasture has its own irrigation system in the form of a towable pivot and three evenly spaced risers. “The timber and shelterbelt simply provide too much protection to take out the trees.”

Bender accessory add-on

On the other hand, the end of the shelterbelt has always kept the pivot from making a full three quarters of a circle on the adjacent corn/soybean field. Instead, it had to stop short of the field edge. That is until Lennemann added the Bender30, which is located midway between the 12 towers. As a result, the pivot rotates as usual until it comes to the shelterbelt, at which point, the first six spans stop, the unit bends, and the last six spans continue on, picking up another 7 acres in the process.

“It doesn’t add very many acres,” Lennemann admits, “but the only other options were laying pipe and furrow to irrigate that section or relying on timely rains. Unfortunately, furrow irrigation takes a lot of labor and, due to our sandy soil, it’s hard to put on enough water to get it more than half to three quarters of the way down the row,” Lennemann adds, noting that he is limited to 9 inches per year from each well.

The Bender isn’t the only option that is allowing producers to get more out of pivot irrigation. All pivot manufacturers offer corner systems, which allow the pivot to cover a full square instead of a circle. However, they have to be ordered and installed as a complete unit.

Fortunately, several companies have since designed options like the Bender, which can be added to existing pivots to reach into new areas. Available in 30° and 60° configurations, the Bender basically wraps around whatever is in its way such as a tree line, a fence, or other obstruction.

Wrap span system

According to Beth Landau, Reinke Manufacturing offers a similar system in the form of Wrap Span, which allows the pivot to bend at any span joint except the last or next to the last tower.

Multiple spans can even be combined within the same system to virtually wrap the unit 180° around an obstacle.

Drop span options

What if you can’t wrap around an obstacle and you want to irrigate on the other side of it?

For those situations, both Valley and Reinke offer a drop span option. It allows you to disconnect one or more spans as it approaches the obstacle, which lets the pivot proceed.

“If you so desire, the system also allows you to pick up an additional span on the other side of the obstacle,” Landau explains. “Should the field widen on the other side, you can even reattach the Drop Span to a span of a different length.”

Otherwise, the machine continues on as a shortened version until it contacts a barrier. At that point, it auto-reverses to where it becomes flush with the stopped portion of the pivot or linear and resumes irrigating in normal fashion once the towers with the Drop Span have been reattached.

The payoff
Lennemann says he isn’t certain how long it will take to recover the cost of the Bender he installed. However, he doesn’t expect it to take long, assuming the DNR doesn’t cut water allotments too much more. At the very least, it’s eliminated several hours of labor at the reasonable cost of an add-on.

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