By Clint Thompson
Planting season is just a week or two away for some row crop farmers in the Southeast. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension irrigation and precision agriculture specialist Wes Porter encourages producers to take stock of their irrigation equipment and ensure all the pieces are in working order before crops are planted.
“We want to make sure that our irrigation system is primed and ready to go when we get that crop in the ground to make sure … we don’t have any malfunctions or any issues with that system; that it’s up and ready to run the minute we turn that switch on,” Porter said.
Once crops are planted, irrigation is needed immediately to spark life in plants emerging out of the ground. The last thing farmers need or want to do during planting season is fix a malfunctioning pumping system or tend to a leaky pipe.
“Right now, we don’t have a crop in the ground. It’s the perfect opportunity to go out to that system, go through, from your pumping system all the way to your end gun, and check all those components and systems,” Porter said. “Make sure your pump is clean of debris … Make sure that it’ll turn on and operate properly. If you have a way to do it, check your flow rate from that pump.”
He also emphasizes to check the electrical system and make sure there are no exposed wires or that rodents haven’t been chewing on them. Also, check tires to make sure they are inflated and are not worn or flat. In addition, producers can set out rain gauges to see if the system is applying the right amount of water it should and to determine if recalibration is needed.
“The last thing we want to do is have 8-foot tall corn out there and have a drive line go out and have to go out and pull that motor off in the middle of the season. Just do some simple checks on a system like that; make sure it’s walking right and in alignment and that you don’t have any other issues,” Porter said.