The Masseys use center pivots on about 40 percent of their irrigated acres, and furrow irrigation on the rest. “We try to plant every acre we can irrigate to corn,” Turner says. “We do have two or three small fields that are dryland.”

“Dryland corn did better than ever,” Ellington says. “The corners of our pivot fields yielded really high.”

Because their pivots have been ramped up for maximum output, he says, corn yields under the center pivots were as good as those under furrow irrigation.

“So many pivots are designed for supplemental irrigation. Our pivots are designed for 100 percent irrigation capacity. If it never rains, we can keep up with the crop’s needs. We are really particular about our furrow irrigation, too — we’re careful to not over water.”

“It takes a little more horsepower to run the center pivots, but it’s worth it,” Turner says. “We can put out an inch in 36 hours.”

Nozzles on the pivots distribute water across 60-foot swaths, Ellington says. “Our problem with center pivot irrigation in this region is not evaporation — it’s absorption. Our water is relatively cheap and our humidity is high.”

“In arid regions, they want to get the water close to the ground because they have such high evaporation,” Turner says. “Here, you can stand still and sweat.”