Mark Roach Story


Mark Roach from Savannah Tennessee has been in the timber business for over 30 years and owns a large sawmill. He also farms 1600 acres of corn, milo, & soybeans most of which is along the Tennessee River just below the Pickwick Dam.

Mark’s first experience with irrigation and center pivots was not the best. He purchased an electric pivot in 2012. It was installed in the spring of 2012 but it sat idle during that summer while his crops suffered through an extreme drought. Even though he bought a pump for that pivot it was never connected to any water source. Pivots require water.

Mark and a good friend of his, Karl Forsbach, compared notes (as all good neighbors do) about their experience with irrigation dealers. Karl & his son Alex (Growing Acres) farm similar land as Mark. They had purchased two T-L pivots from a dealer located in Mississippi and they told Mark about going through a terrible experience with that company in 2009. That dealer had told Karl that all the problems with the system that he had sold him were caused by a bad Cornell pump. The following February Karl went to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville looking for someone with Cornell Pump Company to discuss the problems he had. He came to the R&K Pivots booth and discussed with Ken Moore (R&K) and Richard Holtan (the Cornell sales rep that was in the R&K booth) all the issues he had been dealing with.



Karl told Mark how Ken and Richard visited his farm shortly after the show and pointed out multiple mistakes with the design and installation of PVT #1 & PVT #2 in the drawing above, none of which had anything to do with the pump. One obvious problem was that pump unit had been installed on top of the river bank. During the previous summer when the river level dropped to the normal summer pool level, the lift was far beyond what any pump was capable of. A comprehensive plan including lowering the elevation of the pump by 10ft, was provided to solve the many existing problems as best they could be. Some of the improvements included taking out 8 spans on the longer pivot that were 6-5/8in pipe and replacing them with 8in pipe to reduce friction loss. On the shorter pivot 4 spans of 5in pipe were replaced with 6-5/8in pipe. In the process two more T-L pivots were erected. The mistakes the dealer had made in the design and installation are too many to mention. Several other farmers had similar problems with this same dealer as well as the T-L sale rep. Eventually T-L fired the sales rep & cancelled the dealership.



Late in the summer of 2012 Mark had a visit from a different electric pivot dealer that looked at the situation and told Mark that he could help with his problem and would get back with him in a couple of days. He has not spoken to him since. When Robert Vaughn with R&K Pivots contacted Mark later on in 2012, he was understandably skeptical of irrigation dealers but he knew that Karl was well pleased with what R&K had done for him & Alex. Robert explained all the advantages of the T-L hydraulic powered pivots over the electric powered ones including when it comes to the problem of flood water covering the pivots. Karl and Mark both farm land that is subject to flooding and this was a major consideration when Karl had purchased T-L pivots. Mark has to remove all the electric motors on the electric pivot each fall and replace them before the next season.

Open this brochure for details on why T-L

flooder coverRobert & Mark worked together on a plan to use what he had purchased. Since the diesel pump unit Mark bought with the electric pivot did not have enough horsepower to pump water from the river and run the attached 3PH generator required to run the electric pivot correctly, they relocated it to a different farm to run two T-L pivots which were installed by R&K in time for the 2013 season. Here is the design map for that farm.



Mark Roach Seaton Farm

The major obstacle at the larger farm was the 30ft from normal summer pool to the top of the riverbank. It is not possible for a centrifugal pump to lift water 30ft. The pump Mark had been sold to go with the electric pivot had zero chance of working at this site.

Since Mark had access to 3PH power at the water source, the logical solution was a floating gravity fed Riverscreen with a 50HP Cornell electric pump mounted on it. This pump provides all the volume of water required and half the pressure required to pump water from the river out to the last pivot.


Gravity fed Riverscreen


Mark Roach booster pump 50HP

Booster pump on Riverbank













A second 50HP Cornell electric pump was placed on top of the river bank to boost the pressure from the floating pump to provide sufficient water pressure to the end of the last pivot which is now a total of 8,450ft from the river.

mark roach 2013

Mark Roach 2013

In 2013 a T-L hydraulic full circle pivot was installed south of the electric pivot. The dual pump system of two 5RB-50HP Cornell pumps provides water to the new T-L pivot and the electric part circle pivot which are the two pivots closest to the river. Knowing that two more pivots were planned for 2014, a 15in PVC pipeline was installed past the T-L pivot and on to the electric pivot. Direct burial wire was also installed from the pump site to power the electric pivot and the T-L installed in 2013 as well as wire to continue on to power the two future pivots.

In 2014, two more T-L pivots were added to the system. Two of these four pivots are run at a time and have different crops under them than the other two pivots. Installing the correct capacity of PVC pipe and wire from the beginning made this expansion possible.


Mark Roach 4 pivots 2014

Mark Roach 2014

In 2017 R&K Pivots installed 4 more T-L pivots on land east of the first 4 pivots. The pumping system for these 4 pivots is a 6RB-75HP Cornell pump on a gravity fed Riverscreen and a 6RB-100HP booster with VFD which pumps 2950GPM to run all 4 pivots at the same time. At this point M ark has a total of 1000 acres under pivot irrigation.

Mark Roach 2017 map

Making the best of a bad start required a lot of visits, phone calls, emails, drawings, and thinking but Mark is on the right track now. R&K Pivots is glad we contacted Mark and I know Mark is too. We understand the importance of experience, knowledge, ethics, and long term relationships. Doing “the right thing” for our customers has resulted in selling more irrigation systems since we started in 1978 than all the websites, advertisements, farm shows, or any other kind of promotions we have tried combined. Mark, Karl, & Alex would not have agreed to being involved with us telling this story if their experience with us had not been a good one. Our relationship with Mark would have went nowhere without Karl & Alex providing positive comments about R&K. The brand of center pivot you buy and just as important the dealer who designs and sells you an irrigation system matters a LOT! Just ask Karl, Alex, & Mark.

R&K Pivots—All you need to know about irrigation.