2 min read

Maintenance checklists Trouble shooting

Failures of pumps and irrigation equipment on your dairy farm can lead to wasted time, limited pasture growth, and stress. The page highlights the importance of regular checks and ongoing maintenance to prevent these issues. Having a list of weekly, monthly, and annual tasks helps keep maintenance up-to-date. The page also offers guidance on essential procedures for most irrigation systems and emphasises the importance of fixing any issues quickly to prevent loss of pasture production or nutrients. If you're installing a new pump, make sure to get specifications and a commissioning report from the supplier.

Failures of pumps and irrigation equipment during the season can waste a lot of time, restrict pasture growth and create stress.

Regular equipment checks and ongoing maintenance is vital in preventing breakdowns and reducing the chance of serious damage. Having a weekly or monthly and annual task list for irrigation maintenance, where you can check tasks off easily, ensures maintenance is kept up-to-date.

Below is a summary of some essential maintenance procedures for most irrigation systems. For more detail specific to your system, contact the service provider. If you install a new pump, ensure the supplier provides the specifications and a pump commissioning report. This will serve as benchmarks for future checks.

Print off and fill out ‘your farm’s irrigation information’ template and hang it at the shed for staff to refer to.

Maintenance checklists

Before the irrigation season starts

IrrigationNZ has pre-season checklists and performance assessments for a range of irrigation systems. To find these checklists, click here.

First irrigation

At the pump:

  • surface pumps are primed
  • fill mainline slowly
  • take and record initial flow readings, operating pressures and amp meter readings – these will serve as benchmarks for the rest of the season
  • listen for any unusual noise
  • check all pressure and/or flow switches which could have been damaged over the winter
  • check any leaking seals, joints or glands
  • check suction screens and surface water takes. If auto clean, ensure it works.

At the irrigator:

  • grease pump and motor
  • check operating pressure to compare with initial readings or specifications
  • check sprinklers for condition, rotation, blockage, wear and tear
  • check hoses and pipes for damage or leaks.

During irrigation season

At the pump

  • grease pump and motor
  • check flow readings, operating pressures and amp readings to compare with initial readings or specifications.

At the irrigator

  • check sprinklers for condition, rotation, blockage, nozzles not hooked up, wear and tear
  • check irrigation speed and operating pressure
  • check application depth and compare against design specifications
  • check hoses and pipes for damage or leaks
  • follow maintenance schedule for regular greasing of travelling irrigators
  • have a plan to manage travelling irrigators in high winds. This may include turning water off but keeping the irrigator filled with water; parking the irrigator behind shelter; or in the same direction as the wind to minimise the contact area. Tie down rotary booms.

At the end of the irrigation season

At the pump:

  • repair or replace broken meters and gauges
  • if the pump is operating more than 5% below specifications, consider taking action to repair.

At the irrigator:

  • remove frost drain plugs
  • remove any plug-in cords and store them in a covered area off the ground
  • tie boom irrigators so they can’t rotate; store against a shelter belt
  • park the pivot in the same direction as the prevailing wind to reduce the contact area of wind on the machine
  • do not park the pivot in the wheel tracks or down a steep incline
  • pull K-line alongside a permanent fence, not under trees
  • do not store irrigators near trees which may break or fall over under the weight of snow
  • arrange an annual maintenance check by the supplier, for travelling irrigators
  • check major overhaul needs: usually every 10,000-20,000 hours of operation
  • with border dyke irrigation, review performance and the need to redevelop border strips and levels.

Trouble shooting

Problems which occur with irrigation can range from minor issues which take time to fix, through to major problems that cost time, money and loss of pasture production (from delayed irrigation) or loss of nutrients (through over watering). It is important that any problem is fixed quickly and the cause identified to stop it happening again.

Below is a summary of common irrigation problems.

Last updated: Sep 2023

Related content

Design and installation


1 min read

Management and operation


5 min read



3 min read



7 min read