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. The pivot he bought was installed in the spring of 2012 but it sat idle during that summer while his crops suffered through a bad drought due to insufficient water supply.
Mark and a good friend and neighbor 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 in the Savannah area. They had purchased two T-L pivots from a dealer located in Mississippi. 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 R&K and the Cornell sales rep that was in the booth all the issues he had been dealing with.
Karl told Mark how R&K and the Cornell rep visited his farm shortly after the show and pointed out multiple problems with the design and installation of the two pivots none of which had anything to do with the Cornell pump. One obvious problem was that during the summer the river level had dropped beyond what any pump was capable of lifting water. A comprehensive plan including lowering the elevation of the pump was provided to solve the many existing problems as best they could be. In the process of making many changes to the two existing pivots, 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 and he eventually lost his T-L dealership.
During late 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 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.
Robert & Mark worked together on a plan to use what he had to make it work. Since the diesel pump unit Mark got with the electric pivot did not have enough horsepower to pump the water and run the attached 3PH generator to operate the electric pivot correctly, they relocated it to a different farm to run two smaller T-L pivots which were installed by R&K in time for the 2013 season. Here is the design map for that farm.
The major obstacle at the larger farm was at the water source because of the river level. The water level can change by 30ft or more over a short period of time. When the river level is at normal summer pool, there is not a pump made that could be placed on top of the river bank and pull water to it. The pump Mark had been sold to go with the electric pivot had no chance of working at this site.
Since Mark had access to 3PH power at the water source, the solution was a floating Riverscreen with a Cornell electric pump mounted on it. This pump provides all the volume of water required and half the pressure required to get water from the river out to the last pivot. A second 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 a total of 9,875ft from the river. Here is the design map for this farm along with a photo of the floating Riverscreen/Cornell pump.
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 would be added in 2014, a 15in PVC pipeline was installed past the T-L pivot and on out to the part circle electric pivot. Direct burial wire was also installed 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 the PVC pipe and wire required to run two more T-L pivots was added onto the end of the 15in line. Since 2014 two of these four pivots are run at a time and have different crops under them than the other two pivots. At some point in the future the two 50HP pumps will be replaced with larger ones to allow running all 4 pivots at the same time. Installing the correct capacity of PVC pipe and wire makes this possible.
In 2017 R&K Pivots will install 4 more T-L pivots on land east of the first 4 pivots. The pumping system will consist of a 6RB-75HP Cornell pump on a gravity fed Riverscreen and another 6RB-100HP with VFD pumping 2950GPM which will allow running all 4 pivots at the same time. At this point Mark will have a total of 1000 acres under pivot irrigation.
Making the best of a bad start required a lot of visits, phone calls, emails, drawing, 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. All you need to know about irrigation is R&K Pivots.