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Early Innovations Helped Make Pivot Irrigation More Efficient and Affordable

Shortly after the first Zimmatic pivot was installed, nearly 50 years ago, Lindsay engineers began working to make center pivot irrigation more efficient and affordable.

“Pivot irrigation was a great advancement for farmers but, at the time, it was expensive,” said Jason Parker, director of Sales at Lindsay Corporation. “After the first pivot was installed, we immediately began innovating ways to refine the structural design and reduce the number of parts to help keep costs down.”

The Generation 2, or G2, system (currently known as the 9500) was released in 1984. Computer-aided design software allowed for the common use of structural components for all pipeline sizes. This state-of-the-art design provided Zimmatic dealers with a great deal of flexibility when designing and installing systems that were specific to customer needs.

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“Also in the 1980s, we launched the spur gear center drive,” Parker said. “It increased energy efficiency and improved the pivot’s speed, allowing growers to make faster rotations with their center pivot.” 

Lindsay took its first step into remote technology during the 1980s – introducing the Remote Monitor and Alarm Control (R-MAC) system, which allowed growers to monitor and control their irrigation systems from a distance. With R-MAC, growers used radios, landlines or cell phones to physically plug into panels on the pivot. From their home or office, they could “call” the pivot – each pivot had its own phone number. When connected, they entered a number from a list of command codes to move the machine – one for forward, two for reverse, etc. 

“When they called to check the system, they would get one of several pre-recorded status messages voiced by a popular Omaha sportscaster,” Parker said. “It seems pretty archaic now but, at the time, it was very advanced. And it laid the groundwork for future innovations, like FieldNET®.”

Check out the other blogs in the 50th Anniversary series: