Reel Irrigation

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ffamom

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Thinking about purchasing a reel irrigation system that would cover about 5-10 acres at time. This portable system would cost around $12,000 to get it up and operational.

This purchase would enable use to plant switch grass on one field and upgrade our coastal pastures to Tiftan-85. It would take a while to recoup the cost with our small operation, but would greatly improve our carrying capacity and hopefully make our operation totally self sufficient in the future.

Should we do it?
 
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ffamom

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Water will be supplied from several ponds with wells to replenish them if needed. Brings up another expense to consider in my equation...cost of fuel or electricity for the well and/or the water reel.

Dealer stated that if you winterize and grease them, reels should last 20 years.
 

bird dog

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Also consider in your equation the increase in the value of your property. An established thick & healthy Tifton field is worth a lot of money if you need to sell.
 

msscamp

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bird dog":gqv3z98p said:
Also consider in your equation the increase in the value of your property.

She also might want to consider the associated rise in property taxes due to the irrigation system. Depending on the tax base, they could be significant.
 

novatech

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Tifton 85 planting alone, when penciled out, is not justified for a cow calf operation. (About $200 per acre?) Add the cost of irrigation and you are in deep financial loss. The only way I could see this ever working is in high quality horse hay or stockers. Cows when being maintained do not require the quality you are going to get.
You also need to remember that even though you have been able to increase your stocking rate those extra catle will need to be fed when the tifton is not growing, that means extra hay.
 

Jogeephus

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I don't irrigate pastures or hay fields. It stinks at times but just the cost of running ample water over ground will cost you more than its worth for a low valued product like grass. JMO However, I don't see anything wrong with planting T85. Personally, I'd rather spend a dollar on fertilizing T85 than I would spend the same dollar on coastal or alicia for that matter. One thing a lot of people overlook about T85 is the fact that it is easily planted over during the winter months because of the mother plants. Unlike, bahia or other bermudas T85 has mother plants and don't have a thick root mat. This leaves bare dirt between the mother plants which is ideal for any type of interseeding during the off months. JMO Also, with T85, you don't HAVE to grow high quality hay if you don't want to. I always try to produce the good stuff but at times the weather doesn't cooperate. This year I produced over 10 rolls per acre of hay on one cutting when the rain just wouldn't quit. These rolls had roughly $7 worth of fertilizer in them and surprisingly was pretty decent quality to boot. On average, with the same fertilizer rate, I will produce at least 1 roll extra per acre in a weeks less time as compared to my coastal.
 

Brandonm22

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I don't know anything about your operation or even where you are located; but if you have enough ground and a reliable water source I think that it is likely to pay in the longrun. How much money do we spend in the South when we get those summers where it stops raining in June 10 and we don't get an inch until Sept 30? The fields turn brown and we all run out and buy hay at the same time for $50-100 a roll and/or we sell those good heifers that WERE going to be making money for us for 12 years. AND/OR we let the cows over graze and we have to rehab or replant that pasture next year or the year after. Also how many times do we drill in winter annuals in Oct/Nov and we just don't get any rain before it is too cold to do us any good. IF we had the ability to put just one inch of water on our best pastures 3 weeks after the last rain in the summer or one week after drilling in winter annuals or maybe one inch 2 weeks post last freeze if it is unusually dry I have to think that you would dramaticallty increase forage yields and consequentially animal performance. I think most of us get hammered by drought ~one out of four or one out of five years. I got real doubts about how sustainable/economically viable we are operating like this. There are some years where the thing won't get used at all; but IF you got the $12g and the other infrastructure in place, (after running through all the real numbers ten times over) I would buy it and try it. At worst your lawn and vegetable garden should be the envy of the county.
 

MrBilly

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We looked a reels but a decent sized reel required a diesel engine to pump with - that alone was an additional 10 thousand, plus it ate 3 gallons of diesel per hour and the thing would run 12 hours per day (roughtly $120/day for diesel). We obviously did not do this.

We installed a K-line irrigation system on just 35 A of hay and pasture, ran electricity to our lake and use a 10 hp electric motor to run the entire system at at cost of $10 per day for electricity (for an average of 12 hr/day). The K-line system is a low flow low pressure system. We could not have survived without selling off many cows without this system during the past few years of drought.

Details at: http://www.k-linena.com/

Cost will depend on how you go. We went with underground pipe, pumping station on trailer so that we could evacuate it when the lake rises (watershed lake), and had all the work done for us.

Billy
 

john250

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ffamom":3p31eq7i said:
Thinking about purchasing a reel irrigation system that would cover about 5-10 acres at time. This portable system would cost around $12,000 to get it up and operational.

This purchase would enable use to plant switch grass on one field and upgrade our coastal pastures to Tiftan-85. It would take a while to recoup the cost with our small operation, but would greatly improve our carrying capacity and hopefully make our operation totally self sufficient in the future.

Should we do it?

It will take forever and a day to recoup that at todays cattle prices.
By "self sufficient" do you mean you currently buy a lot of feed? I strongly advocate growing your own feed, but you generally pay a high price for it. Look at the discussions on buying hay versus growing hay.
You don't say where you are, but there aren't many cattle grazing irrigated land. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong. There is irrigated hay out west, but most of that goes to export or horse markets because of its quality. Cows can't afford to eat that well.
I irrigated with an aluminum pipe setup when I was a kid. Droughts are rare around here, but tobacco and sometimes corn justify irrigation. Dragging that pipe in mud in 90+ weather made a man of me (or at least taught me to cuss).
It takes a lot of power to move water, whether you get it from gas or diesel or electric. Operating costs won't be cheap and maintenance won't be cheap.
If you have a high dollar end product irrigation may be justified.
 

mnmtranching

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Look into a center pivot, you can get them in 1 or 2 sections, maybe a couple used ones. Keeps the labor to a minimum.
 

Stocker Steve

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MrBilly":22g1uelt said:
We installed a K-line irrigation system on just 35 A of hay and pasture, ran electricity to our lake and use a 10 hp electric motor to run the entire system at at cost of $10 per day for electricity (for an average of 12 hr/day). The K-line system is a low flow low pressure system. We could not have survived without selling off many cows without this system during the past few years of drought.

Have you looked at running a couple K-Line pods off an existing flex PVC paddock water system? I realize it will not do a lot of acres but the capital cost would be almost zero.
 

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