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Irrigation Pump Testing

 The Benefits of Irrigation Pump Testing and System Analysis

Almost all irrigation pumps use an "impeller" to provide the centrifugal force to distribute water. Pumps with impeller action include centrifugal pumps, which may be adequate for low lift horizontal applications, and turbine pumps which are more efficient and the standard for deep well use.

Over time, pump performance will inevitably decline. This rate of decline in pump effectiveness depends on several variables, but if a pump is over 5 years old it is a good candidate for testing to see if it's performance can improved or if a replacement pump may be cost-effective.

An Irrigation Pump Test measures various aspects of the pump's operating performance including lift, discharge pressure, power input, and water flow. The results of the pump test provide a value for the overall efficiency of the pumping plant. There are three main classes of pump testing.

  • Simple System evaluation: a walk thru evaluation to measure pump discharge pressure, utility meter data, and evaluate condition of distribution system and sprinkler nozzles.
  • Simple System Irrigation Pump Test (e.g. open discharge to a pond): perform pump test (flow, TDH, input power) and limited mainline analysis.
  • Irrigation Pump Test and System Analysis: perform irrigation pump test and evaluate mainlines and critical sprinklers in the tested condition and make adjustments for the critical position of the system.

After the test has been completed, the pump owner or producer will receive a report with test results and recommendations. Some utilities offer reimbursements for pump testing conducted by a qualified individual.

Please note: BPA does not provide incentives directly to Agricultural Producers. Please contact your local utility.

 How BPA Supports Irrigation Pump Testing and System Analysis

BPA offers several options for utilities to provide irrigation and pump testing and systems analysis.

 How BPA Irrigation Pump Testing and System Analysis Works

The purpose of pump testing is to identify ways to improve irrigation system efficiency and performance. A simple assessment or pump test can be performed to determine the flow and efficiency of your pump and motor. This test can determine your pump performance. Outcomes from pump testing and system analysis may identify energy savings associated with:

  • Motor Replacement
  • Pump replacement
  • Replace or trim the impeller
  • Upgrade or add a VFD
  • Mainline
  • Low pressure conversion

To qualify for BPA irrigation pump testing and system analysis irrigation pump must be electrically powered, 20 hp or greater and must not have been tested through BPA-sponsored pump testing services within the past five years. The irrigation pump must have been in operation for the two previous years.

The irrigation pump test must be performed by an individual possessing pump testing knowledge and experience.

Customers and qualified vendors must use the BPA Irrigation Pump Test Screening Tool to limit the amount of dry holes (i.e., pump tests that do not result in energy savings).

 Program Tools and Resources

For more information please contact Jennifer Eskil, Agricultural Sector Lead, at or Tom Osborn, Agricultural Technical Lead, at

Need help finding something? Send us a message, or give us a call at 800-622-4519.
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