Wheel Move Irrigation

This document outlines the normal procedures of operating a Wheel Move Machine to irrigate a Wheat field as well as some personal experiences which could be useful for Agronomists or Agricultural Engineers.

a) Introduction

This text briefly discusses my attempts in the processes of sprinkler irrigation of a wheat field. In early September, KG Company. appointed me to perform sprinkler irrigation on a wheat field, in an area located in southeast of Tehran. The field was about 10 hectares (460m X 220m), and I should have applied a Wheel Move machine. KG Co., as the landowner and concessionaire of the project, made me responsible for carrying out the irrigation process and supervision on T. Company’s work for installing irrigation equipment.

b) Background

Generally speaking Wheel Move (Wheel Line) machine is considered as one of the most economical sprinkler irrigation systems among mechanical movable systems. Day after day more farmers are attracted to use Wheel Move machine due to its easy use. saving water consumption, requiring less number of workers (for self move machines) and flexibility are among other reasons.

From the engineering view, the bases of this project had been quite technical and to carry it out required great skills and experience. Considering the nearness of the project site to the main branch of T. Co. in Tehran, the charges of the maintenance of machine had been very low, and all spare parts were easily available. So almost certain of what I wanted to do I started the project.

This project pursued its own purposes, among which are:

1. Production of an important product, Wheat, near the capital.

2. Using Wheel Move machine for saving in water consumption in an area with little sources of water.

3. Creating an opportunity for instruction and development of new irrigation methods for an important Agricultural product.

4. Creating job opportunities in an area with a high rate of unemployment.

5. Creating a job position which relates to my major as well as promoting my scientific level and gaining experience in irrigation.

This project was carried out in a continental area with the average temperature of 15 Celsius and a humidity of 60%. Considering the insufficiency of the water sources and also the clay-loam texture of the area’s soil, using Wheel Move machine was the most suitable irrigation method in order to prevent several negative factors such as; water loss, surface sealing, appearance of diseases and growth of weeds; it also helped in easy fertilization.

I worked as the supervisor and executer of the irrigation process from the very beginning to the end. Carrying out the project was a grave responsibility which needed great technical knowledge while I did not have enough experience in sprinkler irrigation. Thus I had to spend a lot of time to communicate with university professors and keep in touch with technical experts, who had great experience in the field, including KG’s manager.

As the executive of the irrigation process I was in charge of the irrigation procedures of the farm within the time of seeding to harvest while the intervals were set by agronomists. I was responsible for eliminating the problems of irrigation as well as obviating the defects of the machinery. As the supervisor, I was responsible for supervising on installing and starting the Wheel Move machine by T.Co. the contractor in charge. Besides in order to keep coordination and cooperation in the project and improving the process as a result, I needed to have a close connection with local Agricultural Department and other members of the group including the agronomists, executive of civil and installations group, and the contractor in charge of installing the Wheel Move machine.

c) Personal Workplace Activity

As for the technical details of the work, after studying some references and visiting the areas in which Wheel Move had been used, I firstly got to examine the physical state of the field like its length, width and its relief such the gradient and the soil texture, so using the Wheel Move machine was confirmed after consulting with the KG’s manager. Then after signing a contract with T. Co., I took action for purchasing, installing and starting the machine. At the same time I set the plans with civil group to start constructing the pumping base (digging a well, building a pool of 20m x 10m x 3m, installing a pipe with the diameter of 4 inches and a length of 440m along the northern side of the field). While constructing the base and installing the machine, I tried to have the other members of the group and some other local farmers around so that they could closely observe the procedures and get familiar with this relatively modern system of irrigation while I had prepared some graphical catalogs to elaborate the procedure for them, therefore in case there was any problem in the machine, the workers could solve the problem knowing about the parts of the machine and how to install or repair them. In mid-September a Wheel Move machine with the length of 207m was installed and tested. The machine included the following parts:

1 set of chassis and 2 axles 16 twelve-meter aluminium pipes

1 set of power mover, 8 hp 2 six-meter aluminum pipes

1 coupling of the head of the machine 18 counter balances (levelers)

1 coupling of the bottom of the machine 18 coupling belts and gaskets

1 coupling of the side of the chassis 18 suction valves

17 ordinary couplings 18 risers with knee joints

17 holed couplings 18 sprinkler heads

22 wheels with 76 inches in diameter 30 meters of flexible hosepipe

After primary cultivation procedures for planting the wheat seeds (Alvand variety) in early October, the irrigation process began whose intervals are as follow:

· 02/Oct, the first irrigation after cultivating the seeds

· 15/Oct, the second irrigation to increase the amount of sprouting

· 30/March, next year, (after a stop in irrigation for about 5 months) the third irrigation for forming the culm

· 15/April, the fourth irrigation for beginning of ear formation

· 30/April, the fifth irrigation in the last stages of ear formation

· 15/May, the sixth irrigation at the beginning of blooming

· 31/May, the seventh irrigation before beginning of pollination

· 15/June, the eighth and last irrigation in the processes of filling the seeds and increase in the weight of seeds; in 03/july, the harvest processes was done using Combine, and 4.5 tons per hectare was harvested.

I determined the time and duration of irrigations in coordination with the Agronomy group, and the way to operate the machine, which was carried out by 3 workers. The details are as follow:

A 9 inch polyethylene pipe, with the length of 440 meters and equipped with 9 hydrants with a space of 50 meters each, was set in the northern length of the field. The Wheel Move machine was settled a few meters away from the beginning of the field, and a hydrant with a 4 inch hosepipe of about 30 meters was connected to the 4 inch aluminum pipes along the length of machine. Water was directed towards the main pipe using an electric high delivery centrifugal pump with a pressure of 4 atmospheres and debit volume (discharge) of 48 liter/second which was adjusted by a hydrant. After applying the appropriate pressure, the machine was fixed in each main line for 6-10 hours (6 hours in early season due to shallow root zone and avoid Percolation). To start irrigating the next station, we stopped the irrigation by turning off the hydrant plus removing the hosepipe from the hydrant and the machine and allowing 20 min for the water to drain from the discharge valves. Then we drove the machine forward for 40 meters to the next mainline. We decided to skip every other station, instead, doing it on the way back to prevent moving the machine back to the start point empty. The machine moved by a wagon equipped with; a petrol engine (model HMXL 80) of 8 Horse Power, hydraulic system, gears and chains. Each thorough irrigation of the field took 140 230 hours.

Side Activities:

There were a few tips I pointed out to the workers, some of which are as follow: for an easy and safe moving the machine I asked them to make sure that there is no water in the pipes, remove all the obstacles from around the machine and remove the hosepipe from the machine. Also I reminded them to use the electric switch to turn the machine on and off, rather than the choke, to prevent a disorder in carburetor adjustments. Every weekend, I wrote a report of the activities and events and kept them in files.

The activities that the workers and I did to service and maintain the machine are as follow:

· As a routine task, every week we inspected the entire length of the machine including the wheels and the engine for any equipment wear or loose joint, to repair as necessary and prevent further damage.

· Greasing the chains of the wheel as well as the bearings after each thorough irrigation.

· Checking the hydraulic oil, engine oil and the engine parts after every 60 hours of the machine functioning.

· Replacing the engine oil, spark plug and engine fan filter after 25 hours of engine operation or each three times of irrigation.

· In the winter we moved the machine to a corner of the field, stabilized it using sand bags between the wheel vanes and tying it to sturdy poles. Then we detached the hosepipe and chains, and kept the chains in a bucket filled with oil. The engine and chassis were covered with tarpaulin.

Troubleshooting: To solve the problems that happened during the project, I almost used my own scientific and technical information and sometimes I consulted the experts or referred to the scientific engineering sources. Some important points are as follow:

· A problem once happened was that although the engine was on, the machine did not move forward. To solve this problem, I cleaned the hydraulic filters. The problem was solved after replacing the hydraulic oil and checking the orbit gears, pump and hydraulic hoses.

· The other problem was that after providing the suitable water pressure for irrigation, I noticed that water was leaking from one or several discharge valves. The reason was that some pieces of brushwood and sand were trapped in the plastic duct of the valve; therefore I turned the discharge plug at the end of machine on and off several times while the pressure was still on, to dispose of all obstacles inside the aluminum pipe and re-establish the irrigation.

· It came about a couple of times that the sprinklers did not turn so that the water could only irrigate one direction. To solve the problem I used grease and emery to lubricate the sprinklers.

· The other thing, which happened several times was that violent winds sometimes   dislocated  the machine and caused its main position to change. Thus, we moved the machine back to its mainline manually, and controlled its shifting by placing sand bags in the wheel vanes.

d) Summary

Considering the objectives of the project, the outcomes have been positive. Although by taking the quantitative production of the wheat into account, the results cannot be considered totally ideal; in general it can be called a successful project.

The irrigation process was carried out using my own methods and expertise; however the problems were resolved by my technical engineering knowledge as well as the experts’ assistance. Also I used my own initiation and innovation in performing other activities to ease the procedures of the irrigation, improve the function of the available facilities, to save time and money and most importantly to provide safety. I assume I have had a major role in executing the project from the beginning to the end; even though I understood that there are plenty of new domains in Irrigation and Agronomy that I must learn in the future. Throughout the project, I was encouraged by managers and people in charge because of my responsibilities and skills; I was also awarded by the manager of KG. Co. Yet keeping in touch with other members of the group and consulting the experts and experienced ones has been a very important factor in achieving this success. At the end I sincerely appreciate all who assisted me during this time, as well as Nature that provided me with ideal conditions.