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Irrigation Isn't Free!

Irrigation Isn't Free!

High fuel costs cut into profits for irrigators too.

You may be envious every time you drive by a farm field and see a center pivot spraying water over the crop. If only you had some way to get water to your crops.

Irrigators aren’t complaining because they know they will get a crop, although it likely won’t be as good as normal. Heat during pollination and high night-time temperatures during pollination and grain fill can knock the top 10 to 20% off irrigated fields as well.

Irrigation Isn't Free!

Meanwhile, irrigators are pointing out that keeping those farm rigs running this summer, virtually non-stop, is resulting in hefty fuel bills. One farmer, who irrigates roughly 500 acres with gas-powered engines, says his diesel fuel bill for the past three months has ran nearly $3,000 per week. That’s around $8,000 to $10,000 per month!

Say his final costs end up being $40,000 for the summer, just for fuel. That’s $80 an acre. If it means the difference between 175-bushel corn and 50-bushel corn or no corn, it’s obviously still a good farm investment, but it’s expensive and time-consuming all the same.

The value isn’t lost on those who irrigate. The person who reports these high fuel bills says he’s already figuring how to get at least two more pivots on droughty ground next year.

The best bargain, he says, is running farm irrigation units by electricity. His newest pivot is driven by an electric motor. The fuel or energy costs to drive the pivot are about half what he’s paying to keep his diesel powered pumps and units running, he says.

His electric unit also has a remote control feature through his smart-phone. Modern diesel-fuel, engine driven models could also use the same technology. He can basically turn the pivot on, off, adjust rate and reverse the system no matter where he is. His system happens to be a Valley unit.

An application on his smart phone shows him what’s going on with the pivot, and makes it easy to make changes from anywhere where there is cell service.
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