West Kentucky RECC Advises Farmers To Remember Electrical Safety When Using Irrigation Equipment

July 27, 2020 --During the summer, farmers need regular rainfall to sustain proper crop growth and development. Because Western Kentucky has different types of soil, and summer storms are notorious for dropping heavy rains in one area while leaving others high and dry, irrigation equipment can be a valuable tool for farmers. However, it is critical to recognize and avoid electrical hazards when using irrigation equipment.

Operating pumps and other equipment in a damp environment increases the chance of equipment failure. Because the farmers themselves may be rain-soaked and muddy, their vulnerability to electric shock is also much greater.


Water and electricity can work together if you follow safe work practices:

  • Proper equipment selection and installation methods – The system should be wired to the standards of the National Electrical Code: it must have disconnect switches; it must use equipment and enclosures suitable for conditions; it must protect wires from physical damage or use “jacketed” irrigation cable; and it must have circuit and equipment grounding.
  • Routine maintenance checks – Proactively look for faulty equipment and proper wiring installation.
  • Safe work practices – Turn off the power before working on an irrigation system. Be aware of overhead power lines when working with irrigation pipes, when standing on systems and when spraying water near power lines. Avoid wearing loose clothing and tie back long hair when near rotating equipment.

More electrical safety tips and reminders around agriculture irrigation systems

  • Locate electrical disconnects within sight of and within 50 feet of the equipment that turns off the electrical power to equipment.
  • Label all switches on the control panel to ensure the power can be turned off quickly, if necessary.
  • Weatherproof, waterproof and rodent-proof electrical enclosures/boxes to prevent damage to wires.
  • Install electrical grounding hardware like a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electrocution.
  • Replace damaged electrical power cords.
  • Install protective equipment, like a “jacketed” irrigation cable.
  • Practice “lockout/tagout.” Turn the power off and apply a padlock to the controls or switch to indicate someone is working on the system and it cannot be turned back on.

Source: nrcs.usda.gov

If you have more questions about preventing electrical hazards, contact West Kentucky RECC at 1-877-495-7322.