What might the pivot of the future look like? To begin, it would likely accomplish far more than traditional water application and management. The pivot of the future would combine state-of-the-art machine health features with advanced agronomic capabilities — all to provide growers with real-time crop health and operational support throughout the entire growing season.
Using smart technology, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and edge computing, the pivot of the future would automatically detect irrigation anomalies before they happen; create new maintenance efficiencies; show crop-growth stage in real time; and recommend how much, when and where to irrigate. And — if it really is the pivot of the future — it should be able to know and notify producers of specific tower faults, preventing time-consuming diagnostic trips through the field.
The best part? It’s much closer to becoming a reality than you might think.
The smart pivot changes the way growers irrigate. With the help of sensors, high-resolution imagery and enhanced algorithms, the smart pivot virtually takes care of itself. This new approach to the center pivot, from Omaha-based manufacturer Lindsay Corporation, will monitor every part of the machine’s effectiveness in the field, helping reduce downtime, mitigate labor shortage problems and more.
Products work best when designed for their end users, which is why developers have consulted growers directly while engineering the smart pivot. At the top of their list were labor and downtime concerns. The smart pivot addresses those concerns head-on by proactively identifying preventable field or machine issues that can be easily corrected by the end user or irrigation dealer to maximize uptime.
“Producers know that increasing productivity while saving water and energy are key to staying efficient,” said Reece Andrews, senior product manager, Lindsay. “With the smart pivot, growers get real-time operational and trend-analysis data to meet efficiency and productivity challenges head-on.”
Better machine health, greater ROI
The smart pivot is designed not only to monitor field conditions but also to provide real-time equipment diagnostics that help predict when maintenance will be necessary. For instance, if the system detects imminent issues such as ponding, wheel-track conditions or other irrigation anomalies, it shares that data with dealers for parts delivery and repair, preventing future downtime problems in advance.
Real-time updates are simultaneously delivered to growers as they happen, giving producers the power to make better decisions about how to manage field conditions. The end result? A truly efficient, sustainable and mechanized irrigation system that captures and expands the breadth of modern agricultural innovation.
Advanced crop health monitoring
Advanced testing shows that smart pivot systems could soon be used to understand crop health in completely new ways. For instance, cameras on towers might work in tandem with surveillance technology so growers can monitor agronomic conditions. The vision is to someday enhance existing integrated technology, such as soil moisture sensor information, to deliver varying levels of automation — freeing up growers to focus on higher-order concerns.
The future of mechanized irrigation
Much like modern GPS guidance on farm equipment, which has grown from a nice-to-have to industry-standard technology, the smart pivot is on the way to becoming a staple of the field. In time, growers will look back and wonder how their operations managed without the smart pivot.
The smart pivot field testing and commercialization will continue into the 2022 growing season, with additional updates to come. Features will be rolled out deliberately in response to the needs and feedback from growers through direct partnerships with product development and engineering teams.
Learn more about the smart pivot and experience a virtual demonstration to see how it could benefit your operation.