Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The Pros and Cons of Center Pivot Irrigation

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Center Pivot Irrigation Before Making the Switch

Center pivot irrigation has revolutionized the way farmers irrigate their crops. Before using it to optimize your own operation, though, it’s important to weigh the advantages and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest pros and cons of the system, so you can make an informed decision. 


From precise water distribution to increased crop yields, center pivot irrigation is transforming agriculture for the better. Read on to learn about the greatest advantages of this innovative technology:

1. Efficient Water Application

Center pivot irrigation is known for being one of the most efficient methods of irrigation. The mechanical arm can distribute water uniformly, which helps avoid over-watering and allows for better water conservation.

2. Increased Crop Yields

Because center pivot irrigation delivers water uniformly, it can significantly increase crop yields. This can be especially true in areas with uneven terrain or varying soil conditions. 

3. Increased Flexibility

Center pivot irrigation systems can be adapted to a variety of crops and terrain types. This provides farmers with increased flexibility in their irrigation practices.

4. Reduced Labor Costs 

Compared to other methods, center pivot irrigation requires less manual labor. Once the system is set up, it can easily be operated and monitored remotely with very little physical effort. One person can typically manage hundreds of acres of center pivot irrigation compared to other methods that would require multiple people to manage the same area.

5. Saves Time

With center pivot irrigation, not only can one farmer manage more area, they are also free to focus on other aspects of their farm, such as planting and harvesting.

6. Improved Pest Management

Consistent watering can reduce stress which helps prevent pests and diseases from taking hold in crops. By maintaining healthy plant growth, farmers can reduce the need for chemical pest control measures.


While center pivot irrigation is a game-changer for modern agriculture, it's important to consider both sides of the equation. Read on to discover the top cons of this cutting-edge technology, and how you can mitigate them to optimize your irrigation system.

1.High Initial Cost

One of the biggest drawbacks of center pivot irrigation is the high initial cost of installation. The mechanical arm and supporting infrastructure can be expensive, making it a significant investment for farmers. It tends to pay for itself in the long run, however, with reduced labor and better crop yields.

2. Limited Field Shape

Center pivot irrigation is only best for large, circular fields, which can be a limitation for some farmers. If a farm has small or irregularly-shaped fields that will not accommodate a circle without significant land loss, other irrigation methods may be more appropriate. 

3. Maintenance Requirements

Center pivot irrigation systems require regular maintenance to ensure proper operation and prevent breakdowns. This may include tasks such as cleaning filters, checking nozzles, and replacing hoses. Failure to perform regular maintenance can lead to decreased efficiency and increased repair costs.

4. High Application Rate

Center pivot irrigation systems apply water very quickly at the end of the machine. Some soil types, such as heavy clay, may not be able to absorb the water quick enough, resulting in runoff and erosion. This can be mitigated by choosing a sprinkler with a large wetted diameter, and by reducing the pivot length.

Create the Perfect Center Pivot Irrigation System with Nelson

Center pivot irrigation can be a valuable tool for farmers seeking an efficient and effective irrigation method. It’s important to consider all factors, including field shape, crop types, and terrain, however, before choosing an irrigation method. To see if a center pivot irrigation system will meet your needs, reach out to Nelson Irrigation. We have roots in irrigation dating back more than a century, and we will be happy to put our knowledge and experience to work for you designing the perfect system.

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