Great Bend, Kansas
It's an art to align electric systems. On the other hand, alignment is a breeze with a T-L.
“Confidence.” That’s how Roger Brining of Great Bend, Kansas, expresses his feelings about his three hydrostatically powered T-Ls, even though a service man for a major electric brand lives only a mile away and his T-L dealer is 134 miles over the horizon.
And furthermore, he says that when he bought his most recent T-L he didn’t even “research” or compare prices with other brands.
His reasoning: “My T-Ls just run and run and run and run….”
He used to farm ten quarter-sections of land near Alamosa, Colorado, in the 1980s where ten electric systems were running. What he learned from this was, “I really had my fill of microswitches.”
“Also, when we flew over our fields there we’d see just horrendous spoking from all that starting and stopping,” he says. “The input shaft of an electric system goes from zero to 1,760 rpms and then to zero again several thousand times a day.”
“What impressed me the most about T-Ls was their continuous movement that didn’t either over apply or under apply water. I knew with T-Ls there would be less maintenance and wear and tear on the gearboxes and motors due to their steady, continuous motion.”
Brining also remembers clearly when he was knocked off an electric system in Colorado. A previous tenant, in an effort to save $11 on a micro-switch, had done some bypassing so there was electricity when there wasn’t supposed to be any.
Soaking wet, yet luckily on the back side of the sprinkler, his leg barely touched the electric system–in a fraction of a second he was blown into a muddy wheel track with the wind knocked out of him. It required $3,000 in microswitches and fuses to render some measure of safety.
“Each tower was so complex that one such failure would shut down everything. So, in 1989 I told my Dad I thought a hydraulically powered T-L was the way to go. He then installed the first of our T-Ls,” Brining remembers.
It replaced the first center-pivot in the county, a 20-year-old non-T-L unit that hadn’t run much for five years.
“It’s an art to align electric systems. On the other hand, alignment is a breeze with a T-L,” he comments.
Brining is in the process of replacing his older T-Ls, not because they have maintenance problems, but due to the effects of his hard, high iron content water on the pipe.
“The new ones will have T-L’s poly-lined pipe,” he continues. I’m anticipating that I’ll be able to run these systems for 30 years, too. Thirty years is a long time for a pivot. I’d dread having a 30-year-old electric. That would be a nightmare.”
He sums up his feeling about T-Ls by saying, “I love the T-L simplicity!”
Brining is utilizing some sub-surface drip irrigation (SDI). Both methods have advantages, he believes. His main thrust, though, is irrigating via T-L center-pivots.
“I’m almost 100 percent no-till, and I double-crop 40 percent of my 3,000 acres,” he says. “The center-pivot is easier for real intensive double-cropping, because with it I can safely drill in wheat in less than ideal conditions.”
Wheat following corn can be difficult to germinate due to the crop’s residue. His solution: Sprinkle on a quarter-inch of water every two to three days until plant emergence. This practice has resulted in an essentially 100 percent stand.
Being able to water up any crop is also a big advantage of center-pivot irrigation over drip, he thinks. Additionally, drip can’t be used for “chemigation” if the herbicide requires plant contact.
Then there are the problems of how deeply a drip tape field can be worked without destroying the tape, and the rodents that often find the tape tasty. Initial investment is generally lower with a center-pivot, too.
Brining believes two rules of thumb for farming apply: (1). Any irrigation, even flood irrigation, is better for producing higher yields than dry land farming, and (2). Center-pivot and sub-surface drip irrigation are both much more efficient than flood irrigation, not to mention their being substantially less labor intensive.