Crazy Farm Equipment?!!
September 12, 2007 9:44 AM   Subscribe

What's going on in these strange circular regions (pictured here) in Christmas Valley, OR? My guess: Some kind of circular crop field, with a big rotating arm that does tilling/harvesting. If my guess is right, what kind of farm equipment is that and where can I learn more about it? If my guess is wrong, what is it?
posted by DrSkrud to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the arm is simply for irrigation.
posted by Doohickie at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2007

Best answer: Center pivot irrigation!
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2007

It is a rotating irrigation boom. Tilling and harvesting is done with the usual tractors/combines/etc.
posted by Forktine at 9:48 AM on September 12, 2007

rotary crop irrigation equipment; google.
posted by felix at 9:49 AM on September 12, 2007

The center point is either a water main or a well. The boom is an irrigation machine that takes water from the well/main and spreads it on the crops below. It's much easier to maintain the center point than it is to have to maintain flexible hoses and tubes for full-field irrigation.
posted by SpecialK at 9:50 AM on September 12, 2007

Take a look out the window next time you're on a cross-country flight on a clear day. You'll see hundreds of these.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:53 AM on September 12, 2007

posted by Reggie Digest at 9:58 AM on September 12, 2007

Someone also asked about these last year.
posted by easternblot at 10:08 AM on September 12, 2007

In addition to the radial watering boom, this kind of plowing pattern also reduces soil loss from wind erosion.

And plowing/harvesting in a spiral is easier than a raster-scan pattern because there are no corners.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:28 AM on September 12, 2007

Here's a picture from Kansas.

It's interesting that a lot of them aren't full circles. There are pie-cuts out of them. What happens is that the center-pivot irrigator "bounces" and changes direction each time it reaches the edge of the irrigated area.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2007

In New Zealand these irrigation booms are often actually spraying whey (as in curds and whey), a byproduct of the cheese industry. This is to help fertilise the soil and I guess is a source of water extra to whatever they get from the local river.
posted by shelleycat at 2:53 PM on September 12, 2007

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