Center Pivot Irrigation Systems



A center pivot irrigation system is a movable pipe structure that rotates around a central pivot point connected to a water supply. Center pivot irrigation systems are the most popular sprinkler irrigation systems in the world because of their high efficiency, high uniformity, ability to irrigate uneven terrain, and low capital, maintenance, and management costs. The history of center pivot irrigation systems began in Nebraska in the 1950s, and there are now hundreds of thousands of center pivot irrigation systems in the world. Center pivots are “perhaps the most significant mechanical innovation in agriculture since the replacement of draft animals by the tractor” (Splitter, Scientific American). The systems move through the field by electrically powered tractor wheels. Sprinkler flow rates increase toward the outer end of the pivot because the end of the pivot travels faster. The primary design constraint is the prevention of runoff at the end of the pivot, where application rates are highest. This chapter covers center pivot pipeline and mainline design, selection of sprinklers, and optimization of the design with respect to yield, energy requirement, components, and economics.


Center pivots Sprinklers Spray heads Rotator heads Infiltration rate Application rate Sprinkler selection Simulation Pipe head loss Optimization 

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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