March 4, 2022
Last fall we purchased a used irrigation system from a neighbor. He had replaced his vintage 1980’s system with a new one. Often times the older systems get delegated to corners, odd-shaped areas, or less critical fields where they finish out the rest of their useful life. In this case, we are splitting the system into two smaller systems and adding more irrigated land to farms with existing irrigation.
You don’t usually think of an irrigation system as something you can move from one field to another. But it does happen, and probably more often than you think. It’s common to see used center pivot irrigation disassembled and put up for sale, or at auction. If you buy them, it is just like assembling a new one. Some of the work may be done for you already, but parts are generally less organized the second time around.
Sometimes, however, depending on route and distance, you can just pull them down the road one span at a time (a span is a 120–215 foot long pipe/truss assembly with a set of tires at the end). We have towed them as far as 30 miles. This time, however, was the shortest move we have ever had and a relatively easy route, so the decision was made to pull them down the road. Over the years, when purchasing used irrigation, we are about 50/50 on tear down vs. towed.
Prepped for moving day
Earlier in the winter a crew from one of the irrigation companies came and disconnected the sections. They cut the short water hose that connects sections, unhooked the 10-wire cable, pulled the alignment linkage and set each span to the ground. Last week, they were able to take advantage of frozen ground and tow the sections to their new home.
Despite crossing a railroad track and a dual-lane U.S. highway, the route was relatively easy when setting the 150-foot long span onto a steerable cart. For one of the sites, we did have to get permission from one neighbor to make a loop across his field to make the corner.
Soon, we hope to pour concrete for the center tower and have everything re-assembled. We have applied for road cut permits so that we can install the water pipe and power cable from existing services. We also plan to update the drivetrain on each span with new gearboxes and universals.
Was it a good purchase? We think so. We should be able to get many more years of service out of these machines. All said and done, we will come in well below half price of a new system (but it will be more than the pivot cost originally, LOL).
Who knows how long they will last? The first system dad bought in 1976 is still in service here today. I would expect we can get another 20 or 30 years with routine maintenance and updates. Remember though, we are in a supplemental irrigation area, where we only apply 6-10 inches per year.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.
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