On this day in 1952, Frank Zybach patented his center-pivoting rotting irrigator.
If you’ve flown across the country, you’ve undoubtedly seen green circles of irrigated land, typically clustered together in the middle of brown to the horizon.
Zybach grew up in Nebraska but was farming in Colorado in 1947 when he saw a demonstration of modern movable irrigation. Workers were moving and connecting pipes fitted with sprinkler heads from one part of a field to another. Sprinklers could beat a couple of problems: uneven, hilly terrain and the tendency of water to run into sandy ground before getting to the end of the ditch.
But Zybach, a lifelong tinkerer, saw something more: Why have humans set up, take down, move the equipment and repeat? Why not have the equipment move itself?
Within a year, Zybach had built his first prototype, and the rest, as they say is history.
Photos by brewbooks and spaceninja.