Square the Circle

A recent post on Edible Geography reminded me of these strange pivot circles I had found in Google Earth. Some of these circles were just too big and they seemed squeezed from the sides:

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According to the article on Edible Geography: “These overlooked corners (in the square grid, red) make up a not insubstantial percentage of a farmer’s available land. On a typical 160 acre “quarter section” in the American mid- and southwest, tessellating pivot circles will leave up to 24 acres, or 15 percent of each field, thirsty.

For me, living in the Netherlands, this is hard to understand. A Dutch farmer will do anything to use every percentage of the land he owns.

If you take a closer look you can see why the oversized circles are shaped this way: at the end of the pivot is a hinge. This hinge is extending the pivot in the corners of the square and irrigating a substantial part of these corners.

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Sometimes you can find small pivots turning in the empty corners between the big circles, although very rare..

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If you want to dig deeper into the American grid and into pivot irrigation: here is a nice online article on The Great American Grid website: The Art of the Circle Field

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