Lateral moves have the same sprinkler flow rate along their full length, as each tower moves at the same speed. Hence the high average application rates occurring at the outer sections of large centre pivots are not an issue with lateral move systems.
Capital costs per hectare for a lateral move are generally lower than for pivots, as lateral moves are suited to irrigate large areas.
System capacity of a lateral move is variable, depending on the length of run.
Most lateral moves are powered by a diesel engine mounted on the machine, which pumps out of an open channel. Some however utilise a hydrant and flexible hose, often with a remote fixed-location pump (a diesel engine is still needed to drive the machine). The machine mounted pump and motor arrangement precludes the use of electric power and off-peak operating costs.
Where the lateral move is supplied directly from an open channel, no supply main line (and associated friction loss) is necessary.
Lateral move systems are more labour intensive because of the need to supervise the diesel operation, open channel maintenance and regular checking of the tower guidance system. Pivot operation is generally simpler and more “fool-proof”.
Lateral moves have to irrigate back over the most recently irrigated land when changing direction. This poses management problems such as non-uniform irrigation intervals over the paddock causing temporary waterlogging and aggravating wheel rutting problems close to the end of the runs Management of this is more difficult than for a pivot where the driest ground is normally immediately ahead of the pivot lateral. However, a pivot that only irrigates a part-circle has the same management issue as it has to reverse over already irrigated land. This can be managed.
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