Before you forget about irrigation for this year, consider the following management practices to prepare for next season.

List the repairs needed for each system— Turn each system on one more time, walk the system and list all the needed repairs and improvements. Check irrigation controls and stops. Inspect tire and drives. Create a plan for repairs and ideally make the repairs before tillage starts next spring. Double check the integrity of the electrical ground for each power and control box.

Irrigation system uniformity evaluations— The St. Joseph Conservation District shared with me the results from five recent before and after improvement system uniformity evaluations with an average increase of 9 percent. That means 9 percent less water would need to pumped or a 9 percent lower energy bill next year. Improvement system uniformity in the 10-20 percent range is not uncommon.

If you have a typical 160 acre pivot using 8-inches of water in an average irrigation need year at $3.50 per acre inch energy and repair cost you will spend almost $4,000. A 9 percent saving would equate into $360 saved on your energy cost, more than paying for the irrigation system uniformity evaluation in the first year if the needed repairs are low cost. If sizable repairs are needed, now is the time to schedule them.

Measure your available flow— One surprise we have found in working on irrigation system uniformity evaluation is that many irrigators are just guessing at the flow their pumping plant puts out. A system evaluation will measure your actual output and a flow meter can give you a simple, quick look at your systems output. Compare the sprinkler package criteria to your measured flow and make adjustments as needed. Many dealers have the capacity to measure irrigation flow for their clients.