Crop Circle Irrigators

I was driving thru the Texas Panhandle this weekend and saw quite a few of those very large spider-like irrigators. The ones that rotate around a center point to irrigate a circular section of crops.

  1. What is the official name for those things?
  2. How the hell do they work?
  3. Are the wheels electrically driven?
  4. How does it keep itself straight?
  5. How many sections (bays?) can be strung together. The longest I saw was sixteen.
  6. How fast do they move?
  7. Are they a maintenance nightmare?
  8. What is the point of the flashing light when it is operating? Collision avoidance?
  9. Does each one pump water from it’s own well or is water piped to them?
  10. How does it keep from flooding the inner sections while providing enough for the outer sections? Are there metered nozzles calibrated for that?
  11. What happens if it gets stuck in the mud?

I’ve been thinking about this for 2000 miles and just have to know!

Center Pivot Irrigation