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. If a pump is more than five years old, it is a good candidate for testing to determine if performance can improved or if a replacement pump may be more 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-through evaluation to measure pump discharge pressure, utility meter data, and evaluate the condition of distribution system and sprinkler nozzles.
  • Simple System Irrigation Pump Test (e.g. open discharge to a pond): Perform to check flow, TDH, and input power, and limited mainline analysis.
  • Irrigation Pump Test and System Analysis: Perform irrigation pump test, 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 utility or qualified vendor. 
Please note: BPA does not provide incentives directly to agricultural producers. Please contact your local utility for details.

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 pump impeller
  • Upgrade or add a VFD
  • Mainline friction-loss reduction
  • Low pressure conversion
  • System redesign

To qualify for BPA irrigation pump testing and system analysis, the irrigation pump must be electrically powered, 20hp 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. 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).

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