[Question:] "How much do pivots go for now?"
     "Too much. [Laughs.] Yeah, it's been awhile since we bought a new one, but if you were to buy a new system it would be over $40,000."
     [Question:] "Okay, and that's just the circular [pattern] one, right, without the corners?"
     "Yeah, if you go to the corner systems, you're at $50,000, $55,000."
     [Question:] "Are pivots worth it? Are they a good investment?"
     [Question:] "Why?"
     "The efficiency of the water. I mean, we have two issues really battling there. First is the fact that – the timing of the event when you want to irrigate. Gravity irrigation takes a lot of time to complete the same amount of work that you get with a pivot. And then also the groundwater concerns. I don't think there's a farmer out there that doesn't want to be efficient in their use of water. Pivots are a lot more efficient that gravity irrigation."
     [Question:] "Efficient, what does that mean in that context?"
     "Very little runoff. Like I say, the timeliness. If you would happen to catch a rain you can apply what you need for the week, or just stay ahead of the crop. And if you see a rain coming you don't have to – you can shut the pivot off. Whereas with gravity irrigation a lot of time you just can't – you don't have the luxury of shutting it down to see if it's going to rain."
     [Question:] "How did anybody make it on dry land before?"
     "Well, everybody was in the same boat so [laughs]. It was, you know – Until the first person put in an irrigation well everybody was on the same playing field. So it was probably a struggle at times. I would still say that dry land acres are some of the more profitable acres on certain years than irrigated. There were several years when I started farming that, you know, we would pull 130 to 150 bushel dry land and 170 bushel irrigated. Well, that doesn't take a lot of math to know that the dry land was a pretty good buy that year."
     [Question:] "Because?"
     "Because of that fact you didn't have any investment in the capital expenditures in the pivots and the irrigation expense. The last four or five years have been – The early 2000s have been a little dryer. And the pivots have definitely been a good investment."
     [Question:] "Okay, because they give you that much more yield?"
     "They give you the luxury of kind of guaranteeing a certain baseline."

Troy Otte – Are Pivots Worth the Cost?


Excerpts from Troy Otte’s Interview:

Logic of Large Farms
Starting Up in the 80s
Why be a Farmer?
Who Runs Rural Communities?
Investing in Ethanol
Fertilizer Efficiency
Genetic Engineering
Computers on the Farm