Tips for Storing Irrigation Equipment

When your irrigation season ends for the year, you can be rewarded several ways for the time and trouble you take to prepare your equipment for next season's use. You can:

    Avoid delays and frustration getting it going again.

    Ensure that your equipment will apply manure correctly when used again.

    Prevent breakdowns resulting from improper storage.

    Extend your equipment's useful life and protect your investment.

Ron Sheffield, extension animal manure specialist at North Carolina State University, provides important general steps here. For procedures specific to your equipment, he stresses that you should refer to the manufacturer's operating manual. "Never hesitate to consult with the manufacturer's technical-service people or your dealer," he says.

Hard-hose traveler

1. Purge pumping hose with compressed air. After water is blown out, finish retracting the hose and cradle-gun cart. If air-purging equipment is not available, tow the hose to its full length, leaving half of the coil on the drum. Open the plug or drain valve on the cart. Then retract hose slowly, watching to make sure it does not flatten or wrap incorrectly. If it does, use a wooden pole to reposition the hose. Replace drain plug or valve.

2. Drive turbine: Open the gate-valve and drain plug or petcock.

3. Lubricate fittings with multi-purpose grease or appropriate weight oil.

4. Check the big-gun nozzle for wear and replace if worn. Check bearings and if worn, the gun may need replacing. Cover inlet to keep out dust, dirt, insects and rodents.

5. Reduce tire pressure to 15 psi. (Before operating again, inflate to 40 to 45 psi.)

6. Inspect flexible hoses, valve openings and clamps for damage and wear.

7. Drive engine: Change oil, clean or replace air filter.

8. Inspect, tighten and replace safety shields as needed.

9. Remove chains and store in lubricant such as diesel fuel. This is an optional step.

10. Store reel in clean, dry place. Block irrigator to remove weight from the wheels. If reel is left outside, cover entire machine with a waterproof cover.

Big gun portable sprinkler

1. Check nozzle for wear. Replace ring if worn.

2. Make sure gun travels both ways at the same speed to function properly and to help prevent undue bearing wear. If bearings are worn, you may need to replace the entire gun.

3. Cover inlet to keep out dust, dirt, insects and rodents.

Diesel engine
1. Change oil and filter.

2. Service air filter according to manual.

3. Drain fuel tank and add 1 oz. of inhibitor per 4 gallons of tank capacity.

4. Crankcase oil: Add 1 oz. of inhibitor per quart of crankcase capacity.

5. Disconnect air-intake pipe from manifold. Pour 3 oz. of inhibitor into intake, replace pipe.

6. Using starter, crank several revolutions but do not allow engine to start.

7. Loosen fan and alternator belts to relieve tension or remove belts.

8. Remove batteries and clean terminals; store in a cool, dry place. Keep the battery fully charged.

9. Disengage power-takeoff clutch.

10. Seal engine openings with plastic bags and tape. (Contact your dealer for a special kit.)

11. Coat exposed metal with grease or a corrosion inhibitor.

12. Store the engine in a dry, protected area or, if outdoors, cover with waterproof material and seal with a strong, waterproof tape.

Center-pivot, linear-move system

1. Drain oil from wheel gearbox and refill. (If system is used 1,000 hours annually, also drain and refill at this time.)

2. Drain main line according to manual procedures.

3. Cap opening to keep out dust, dirt, insects and rodents.

4. Inspect sprinklers for wear, checking to see that movable parts operate freely.

5. Lubricate electric motors.

Impact portable sprinkler

1. Check nozzles for wear, replace any that are dented or worn.

2. Check each sprinkler to see that the head moves freely and fluidly several inches. Make sure rotation is consistent. If not, replace the head.

3. Tape the nozzle and pipe base to keep out dust, dirt, insects and rodents.

Agricultural pump

1. Clean off exterior dirt. Prime and repaint any exposed metal.

2. Flush suction and discharge lines, check for leaks, replace worn gaskets.

3. Remove lowest casing plug and drain.

4. Lubricate bearings according to the manual.

5. Seal open ports to keep out dust, dirt, insects and rodents.

6. Store pump, if possible, in a clean and dry area. Every two or three weeks, rotate drive-shaft to keep internal components loose.
Before using again

When removing the engine, pump, traveler or any other equipment from storage, remove protective coverings, unseal the openings, install batteries, adjust belt tensions (replace if needed), perform start-up, idling and operating steps as outlined in the manuals.

"The care you give equipment when storing and reactivating, plus conscientious maintenance during the season, prevents delays and downtime that may keep you from applying manure when the timing and environmental conditions are right," says Sheffield.