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Old 09-03-2008, 10:46 AM
Join Date: May 2000
Location: True Blue Virginia
Posts: 7,622
Round Fields in Western US

I am in LA for the first time, and on the flight over, I was looking out the window (Rockies - cool! Grand Canyon - cooler!) and as we went past the Rockies, there seemed to be lots and lots of what I can only imagine were farmers' fields, but they were all round, not what I would think of as 'normal' shaped...

Anyone know why this is the case?
Old 09-03-2008, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: SLC, USA
Posts: 4,078
We've discussed this before, but I'm not going to take the time now to search for the relevant threads.

The short answer is that the sprinkler pipes used for irrigation work from a central hub and rotate around the field, creating a circular pattern.
Old 09-03-2008, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Exo Mani
Posts: 880
I've seen these in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It's due to the irrigation system, which is basically a long pole on wheels that swings around from a central point spraying water, hence the circular shape. It makes sense if land is not an issue so you don't mind 'wasting the corners'.

ETA What the fat, bald bloke said above.
If I didn't have such a slow connection I might have been in with the first answer. Ah, well.

Last edited by Petrobey Mavromihalis; 09-03-2008 at 11:39 AM.
Old 09-03-2008, 11:39 AM
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 23,410
Center pivot irrigation.
Old 09-03-2008, 07:57 PM
Join Date: May 2000
Location: True Blue Virginia
Posts: 7,622
Ah - thanks. I apologize for not searching better for the answer, but I am on a crappy hotel connection that kept screwing up.
Old 09-03-2008, 09:31 PM
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: A better place to be
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I recently read an online alternate-universe SF story set in a small town in Nevada -- cropland between ranges. And the author, who had lived there for two years in his teens, leaned over backwards to produce verisimilitude about the area, One of the details he included was precisely this -- fields where the crops were in circular patterns because of irrigation. (Note, they also had square fields of alfalfa, which apparently needs less water.)
Old 09-05-2008, 11:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5,476
I work right next door to one of them in NC but never knew it until I saw the aerial view (can't link to that one but

here's a close-up side view of one in Minnesota:

Here's a neat aerial view of a group in Qatar:


and here's the straight dope, with comparative costs!:
Old 09-05-2008, 11:26 PM
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Location: NoWA
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Obviously, they're crop circles.
Old 09-06-2008, 12:50 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Venus, Texas
Posts: 1,957
Since this has already been thoroughly and correctly answered ...

Because round fields makes it so much easier to rotate the crops, duh!

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