Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Benefits of Pivot irrigation

Benefits of Pivot irrigationFlying across the USA everybody can observe center pivot irrigation: the cause for those green or brown circles or half-circles on the earth below. This type of crop watering system is very effective at creating valuable farmland out of previously unusable dry or even desert ground.

These systems begin with a water source, usually in the center of a field. This source can be a well, canal, or other consistent water supply. From the water source, pipes or hoses allow the water to be transported along the entire length of a field. Wheeled towers allow the pivot to move slowly around the field.

Sprinkler heads spray or sprinkle the growing crops from the main pipe, or from drops that dangle below the structure just a few inches above the plants.

Two important benefits of pivot irrigation are that crops receive regular, consistent water, and that water evaporation and wind drift are greatly reduced. Besides, Pivot irrigation allows the farmer to determine how much water the plants receive, as well as how often the plants receive that water.

Water loss is minimized. In dry areas, water evaporation and wind drift can result in a major loss of water to crops. In the high plains where strong winds are common, wind drift can prevent water from reaching the plants on the ground. Also, warm dry air will cause water to evaporate at a much higher rate than other places.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Nebraska pioneer of center pivot irrigation has died

Mr. Daugherty and his center Pivot scaled modelRobert B. Daugherty was a Nebraska businessman who helped transform the rural landscape into a patchwork of circular fields by popularizing an irrigation system that used a pipe on wheels pivoting around a central point. He died on Wednesday at his home in Omaha, he was 88.

Mr. Daugherty’s company, originally called Valley Manufacturing, started out making agricultural implements. Now known as Valmont Industries, it became an international manufacturing giant. The breakthrough for Mr. Daugherty came in 1953, when he bought the rights to manufacture a new irrigation system, the brainchild of a Nebraska farmer, Frank Zybach. The new system came to be called center-pivot irrigation. It involved a long pipe on wheels that rotated around a point at the center of a field, spraying water as it went.

Engineers working for Mr. Daugherty improved the system, but he had difficulty at first persuading farmers to try it. By the 1960s, however, it began to take hold. Today, about 42% of irrigated farmland in the United States uses center pivot machinery or similar mechanized systems. Its prevalence can perhaps be best recognized from the air, where travelers on cross-country flights can see the landscape converted into a polka dot pattern of irrigated circles inside square fields.

Before the center pivot, farmers would typically irrigate their fields by allowing water to run downhill in furrows. But the center-pivot system allowed for a much more efficient use of water. It also requires less labor and can be used on uneven or hilly terrain where traditional methods of irrigation may not be an option. It is now used around the world and is credited with expanding the acreage of irrigated land and increasing farm productivity.

Mr. Daugherty, who retired from the company in 1996, left a large part of his fortune to a foundation he created. In April the foundation pledged $50 million to the University of Nebraska to found the Global Water for Food Institute, a center for research and policy analysis related to the use of water for agriculture.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two center Pivots to put out a cornfield fire

Center Pivots to put out a cornfield fireThree fire departments responded to cornfield fire near St. Libory (Illinois, US) last saturday. St. Libory Volunteer Fire Chief Troy Leschinsky said a cornfield fire apparently started by a combine was put out partly with the help of two center pivot irrigation systems that were turned on after the field caught on fire.

The fire was several miles west of U.S. Highway 281 on Highway 58. The cornfield that caught fire was south of Highway 58.

Leschinsky said the fire, which was called in at about 5:40 p.m., was also put out through the efforts of firefighters and equipment from the St. Libory Volunteer Fire Department, Dannebrog Volunteer Fire Department and Grand Island Rural Volunteer Fire Department.

Leschinsky, who was still overseeing firefighters as they continued to douse hot spots from the extinguished fire, said he did not know how much, if any, damage was done to the combine. He said the fire was quite noticeable for a time because of the heavy smoke it generated.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pivot irrigation in Libya

Center-Pivot irrigation in LibyaLibya is a country placed in the north of Africa, and now is getting oil by BP. This country is not known for having large reserves of water ready to be used agricultural applications. The government is led by a man considered a little bit eccentric, but he's very conscious in watering crops by using center-pivot systems.

With this initiative, Libya is really trying to green the desert with center Pivots, but there are some other countries like Jordan (it's practicing pivot irrigation), Israel (irrigating for years via its patented drip irrigation system), Syria, Qatar... that are working with the most advanced irrigation systems.

This kind of mechanized irrigation machines have been designed to reduce water loss through evaporation, by using sprinkler methods that feed water from the Pivot pad within a circle, distributing piped water to the whole plot.

Pivot irrigation machines are being used in many countries around the world, including India and desert regions of the USA. However, the way they're growing crops is so unique in Libya. The photo shows a picture of typical images taken by NASA space shuttles passing overhead in Libya.

In a country like Libya (95% of the territory is composed by the Sahara desert) this type of agricultural mechanization is not a cheap investment, and is only possible by being able to extract water from underground aquifers. Each circle is about 0.6 miles in diameter, and is able to grow a number of different crops: vegetables, sunflowers, grains, corn, fruits, and crops for animals.