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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Video: What is Center Pivot Irrigation?

Not sure how many times I’ve had people ask me about these “big spoke things” going across fields, otherwise known as a center pivot and and used in center pivot irrigation. They are definitely easier to understand if a center pivot is running. They are intriguing I admit, and with a span that covers hundreds of acres, they are certainly something to behold.

The connection most people will make is to the sprinkler of sprinkler system in a front yard. And while it’s conceptually similar, the precision with which water used is amazing. The knowledge of the water source is also impressive.

For instance, the pivot in this photo was running and when I saw a Deltapine cotton variety sign at the highway, I figured, I may as well stop & shoot a really short clip of video.

Since I had been driving through the Mississippi Delta the night before, my car was in a bad state – windshield was NASTY from my car’s attempt to make it through the buggy mess. I did a rather common thing, stopped under the pivot’s spray trying to clear the windshield.

That done, I pulled back far enough to shoot some video. In typical farm fashion, a pickup emerged from nowhere and pulled alongside me. He asked if I had seen a pivot before and I introduced myself and explained. He said I should make myself at home; he needed to get going to check another pivot.

Before he pulled away though, he pointed out that with the close proximity of the Mississippi River, I should be sure to wash the car later. Such a shallow well has a high iron content that could play games with a paint job in the long term. I hit a huge storm 30 minutes down the highway that washed the pivot away.

Such hospitality and I didn’t even catch his name.

3 Responses to "Video: What is Center Pivot Irrigation?"

  1. that he has often explained center pivot irrigation to fellow passengers on a plane flights across the Mid America to remove the mystery of why some farm fields are circles and other fields are squares.

    Describing the survey practice of laying out land in square Sections and Townships during the westward expansion is typically an easy task and well understood.

    The greater challenge is explaining the economic differences between dry-land farming (with lower production costs) and irrigated farming (with major investments in wells, pumps and irrigation machinery, plus the added cost of pumping water and increased investment in seed, fertilizer, pest control and agronomic services).

    Perhaps my sharing these aspects of farming with a few business people flying from NY to LA, or other coastal cities, enlightens their understanding of agriculture.

    Our challenge is to craft the words so that are repeatable, thus leveraging our stories to be shared with others.

  2. In West TX the ground water temperature and the windsheild temperature are sometimes so different that I’ve seen a cracked windshield shatter when parked under the endgun on a center pivot.

    We may not have as much water as in other areas – some of our pivots have 3 to 5 wells tied together to get enough water to irrigate.

    In the old days the “water-drive” pivots were actually moved by the force of the water in the system. Today – most pivots – have an electric or hydraulic motor at each wheeled tower. The speed can be set to move the pivot over the field faster or slower, depending on how much water is needed in each pass.


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