Uses for Compact Electric Agriculture Pumps
Steve Babcock, VP of Engineering, Feb 22, 2022
The agriculture industry includes a wide range of activities, from growing and producing crops to growing and producing livestock. Electric agriculture pumps help improve crop yields, milk production, food safety, and herd health, and provide a host of other benefits.
Animal drinking systems and agricultural irrigation pumps are often top-of-mind when talking about pumps for agricultural use. Those types of pumps require high flow rates to transport large amounts of water. However, there is an array of smaller electric pump applications in the agriculture industry beyond crop irrigation and herd hydration. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on several compact, low-flow, high-pressure pump applications that are just as critical.
1. Agriculture Chemical Injection Pumps
The application or dispensing of chemicals is often achieved through chemical injection pumps or dosing systems.
Fertigation and Chemigation
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and pesticides are sometimes injected into irrigation systems and applied broadly to fields to help increase yields. A larger high-flow pump is required to irrigate fields while a more compact chemical metering pump is used in combination to ensure precise injection of chemicals. Smaller scale systems like drop irrigation can also use chemical metering, requiring even greater precision. Fertigation is heavily regulated and requires precise application to properly address a soil’s pH level or other nutrient needs of vegetation.
Sanitation During Milking
As part of the milking process, dairy farmers have a strict cleaning protocol to minimize somatic cell counts (SCC), maintain herd health, and achieve higher milk prices. Chlorine dioxide is injected into a main water line of the teat washing station in a milking parlor and pumped to each animal. Precise percentages of these compounds must be maintained based on individual animal needs, which can be difficult based on various plumbing configurations. The simple turn of a knob on a variable speed flow controller helps adjust flow. A PVC body and ceramic plunger help to ensure chemical compatibility.
2. Misting Pumps for Agriculture
There are numerous applications for various types of misting pump systems in agriculture.
Evaporative Cooling of Livestock and Workers
During the summer months in many regions, livestock can suffer from heat stress. Such stress can reduce milk production in dairy herds and slow weight gain in beef cattle or other livestock intended for consumption. The use of evaporative cooling systems is an effective way to maintain cooler temperatures without using expensive air conditioning systems or chemicals. These evaporative misting systems are designed to ensure that surfaces don’t get wet. Reducing heat stress isn’t just good for production, it’s another way to ensure humane animal practices.
Many of the vegetable crops we consume begin their lifecycle in a highly controlled greenhouse or aquaponic atmosphere. Ultra-fine misting sprayers help to increase harvests by controlling temperatures and humidity. Solar-powered pumps are sometimes used as a sustainable energy source for those who are more eco-conscious.
House flies, horse flies, and other pests in livestock areas aren’t just annoying and bothersome; they can also be a health threat and carry human and animal pathogens. Insecticide application using a fine mist or fog can quickly knock down populations. The most common active ingredients in pest control products labeled for horses and cattle are pyrethrins and pyrethroids. These chemicals are extracted from some species of Chrysanthemum and are safe for use on animals.
Many farm buildings and related settings are prone to dust which can affect the health of workers, animals, and machinery. Dust suppression pumps dispense a fine mist to help control dust in barns, feedlots, and even horse arenas. The simple use of water helps ensure a safe, natural, and organic dust suppression method. An important factor in selecting any dust suppression pump is to ensure proper flow and pressure. Too little and it will be ineffective; too much and you create a slippery and messy sludge.
3. Boom Sprayers
Modern farm equipment and the pumps used in them are highly sophisticated machines that dispense fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Because the use of these types of chemicals is highly regulated (and expensive), it’s critical to achieve precise spray patterns and dispensing of materials. Some field boom sprayers use automated GPS to minimize waste and ensure there isn’t any overspray. Proper flow rates and pressure are the key to performance and are best achieved with plunger pumps which maintain consistent output.
Considerations for Electric Agriculture Pumps
In addition to identifying various uses of pumps in agriculture, it’s critical to outline various characteristics to look for. The environments in many agricultural applications can be extremely harsh, exposing equipment to dust, debris, vibration, heat, cold, and other abuses. As such, pump durability is paramount, making plunger pumps an ideal solution. Here are some features to look for in agriculture pumps:
Eliminating the use of high-priced fuel and the inherent hazards that come with it — combustible materials, carbon monoxide fumes, noise levels, etc. — are major considerations, especially in close quarters. Electric pumps are safer, maintain quiet operation, and cost much less to run.
Sustainability is also a major concern among operators and is a high-pressure pump trend to watch for. States have begun passing regulations banning the production and sale of some gas-powered small-engine motors as soon as this year.
The chemicals used in agricultural applications can be highly corrosive to some pump materials and various components like seals and o-rings. Anodized aluminum and stainless steel are generally more chemically compatible than other materials commonly used in commercial pumps. Stainless steel, in particular, is inherently corrosion resistant but isn’t appropriate for use with chlorides or acids. Ceramic plungers are often recommended for use with chemicals. A reputable pump manufacturer will ensure that they recommend a pump compatible with the specific chemicals being used.
Consistent Flow Rate and Pressure
As noted for several use cases, achieving precise flow rates and pressure is the key to dispensing accurate amounts of chemicals or achieving the right type of spray pattern. Consistency ensures that product isn’t wasted and that safety is not compromised.
The tight quarters of many agricultural applications calls for pumps that are compact and easily maneuvered. A smaller footprint is another major advantage of most electric pumps, but it’s critical to not give up performance in return.
Which Pump is Best for Agriculture?
For the agricultural applications noted here, positive displacement pumps are ideal because they are more likely to dispense accurate amounts of chemicals and other fluids. These factors are especially important when a herd’s health or food safety are on the line.
Electric plunger pumps offered by Pumptec allow for the most precise flow and pressure while ensuring durable operation for years to come. See the difference for yourself in our Pump Comparison Cheat Sheet below. Then, contact our pump experts to talk through your unique agricultural application and how our American-made pumps can provide the solution you’re looking for.