Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pivot Irrigation, Not Furrows, Is Most Economical for Delta | by Bonnie A.Coblentz

Written by and reprinted with permission from Mississippi State University Ag Communications

STONEVILLE, Miss. - Pivot irrigation is no longer a common sight across the Delta, but experts say this equipment remains a viable and efficient way to water crops.

“I would like to see pivots in the Delta,” said Jason Krutz, irrigation specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “They deliver water more efficiently, so if we have an aquifer problem, which everything indicates we do, they would go a long way toward helping address it.”

In recent years, Delta producers have been removing pivot irrigation from their farmland and replacing it with furrow-irrigation systems after their fields were land-formed. Most pivot systems in the Delta were installed 25 to 30 years ago and were designed to conservatively meet the estimated daily water needs of cotton.

More recently, pivots have been designed to meet the maximum daily water requirements of all crops grown in the Delta under the most extreme weather conditions.

“Many producers have a pivot on one field and furrow irrigation in an adjacent field, and they have a higher yield in the field with furrow irrigation,” Krutz said. “They have higher yields because furrow irrigation can keep up with the water demands of cotton, but these older pivots were not set up to keep up with the maximum water demands of corn and soybeans.”

Spray nozzles on pivots can be checked and replaced, and the entire system can be revamped to provide a higher rate of water. Cost-share packages are available to help producers make this happen, but in the Delta, many choose to abandon this method of overhead irrigation.

Krutz would like to see this trend reversed.

“Furrow irrigation is about 55 percent efficient, which means for every inch of water I apply, only one-half reaches the target, which is below the soil surface but not deeper than 3 feet,” he said. “Pivots are about 85 to 90 percent efficient, so for every inch of water, almost nine-tenths of an inch reaches the rooting zone.”

Furrow irrigation uses a collapsible pipe with holes punched in it. A pipe placed in each row allows water to flow down the furrows. While polypipe is not expensive, and maintenance is simple, the ground may need to be sloped so that water flows across the entire field.This dirt work can make the cost of setting up furrow irrigation as expensive as the cost of installing a pivot-irrigation system.

Larry Falconer, Extension agricultural economist at the MSU Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, has included these costs in planning budgets available to producers.

“In some cases, the dirt work can exceed the cost of the pivot equipment,” Falconer said. “We calculated that installing a half-mile pivot costs about $400 per irrigated acre. If you assume it will cost $1.35 per cubic yard for dirt work, installing furrow irrigation will be more expensive than installing pivot irrigation if you have to move more than 350-400 yards per acre.”

Falconer said installation costs for pivot irrigation is lowest on square fields, but furrow irrigation is better suited for irregularly shaped fields.

It also costs less to operate pivot irrigation than to furrow irrigate.

“If you start with a half-mile pivot-irrigation system, total costs to irrigate with 7.5 inches of water per acre are just under $99 an acre,” Falconer said. “A comparable rollout pipe system would use 13 inches of water per acre and have a total cost of $105 per acre. You’d be pumping about 60 percent more water because the furrow system is less efficient.”
Lyle Pringle, associate agricultural engineer and irrigation researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, explained the efficiency losses in both systems.

“You have to put on more water with furrow irrigation because it has to run from the upper end of the field to the bottom end of the field,” Pringle said. “To get a good irrigation on the bottom third of the field on a lot of our soils, you have to run some water off to give more time for water to soak in on the bottom. You don’t have that much runoff with a pivot.”

Pivot irrigation sprays water over the tops of the plants, and some is lost to evaporation. With furrow irrigation, some is lost into the soil as the water percolates deeper than the rooting zones. But furrow irrigation has some benefits.

“With furrow irrigation, you can water every acre,” Pringle said. “With a pivot, you generally have to leave out the corners. Since most systems are electrical, when pivot systems go down, they can be more difficult to fix and they can get stuck in the field. Downtime needs to be minimized with pivots, because they are not designed to play catch-up.”

Pringle would like to see existing, older pivots renozzled to more efficiently meet the needs of crops during the highest water demand. Wells should be designed and maintained to deliver the designed flow for the life of the system.

“I believe a well-managed, well-designed pivot can make just as much yield as a furrow,” he said. “Furrow irrigation efficiencies can be improved with better water management, but inherently will be less than a well-maintained pivot system. And as water continues to be pumped from the aquifer and we have less and less in reserve, pivots make good sense.”

By Bonnie A. Coblentz, MSU AgCommunications.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weather Stole the Spotlight at Fall Farm Shows | by Shannon Peterson

The fall farm shows are a big deal for manufacturers and growers alike. Shows like Farm Progress and Husker Harvest Days give the Valley team a chance to connect with growers, see what other ag companies are developing and reconnect with peers from other companies.

Growers who attend can talk to Valley representatives and dealers about new and existing products, and peruse other booths to gather information and ideas.

Plus, the shows include great food, such as homemade ice cream, steak sandwiches and turkey legs, free stuff from bags to hats; livestock; concerts; and drawings for iPads, end guns and cars. Whew!

But this year, all that was overshadowed by the weather. Everyone was glued to their smartphones, watching the radar as storms swirled around and over Boone, Iowa, and Wood River, Neb. There was rain and wind. Lightning shut down Farm Progress on its final day.

And then there was mud. Lots and lots of mud. Muddy parking lots, muddy booths, muddy roads, muddy khakis. Cars and trucks got stuck in the mud; four-wheelers and bigger trucks pushed them out of the mud.

Rain and mud shut down Husker Harvest on Wednesday. Thursday brought more rain and cold temperatures, but many visitors. A Valley Product Manager said he was so busy he didn't leave the booth all day. Meanwhile, one show attendee said his visit was the worst three hours of his life – that’s pretty telling, coming from a farmer!

In the end, we all muddled through, made some connections and generated ideas for next year’s show.

But we’re all hoping for a little sun at the upcoming Sunbelt Ag Expo, Oct. 14-15 in Moultrie, Ga. See you there!

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She writes and edits materials about irrigation equipment. Shannon enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for tourism magazines. She also likes trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

End-of-Season Checklist | by Nicole Alvarez

This piece was written for and published by Senninger Irrigation, and reprinted with permission.

This year’s irrigation season is ending for many farmers across the western hemisphere. Several are already working in their combines and reaping the fruits of their labor.

It’s tempting to forget about pivots and just focus on getting crops out of the field and into a bin during harvest. Yet this is one of the best times to evaluate sprinkler packages to make sure your pivots are in top shape and ready for another growing season. This check helps prevent unwanted surprises and helps ensure crops will be irrigated according to schedule. 

We suggest you take a look at this end-of-season checklist for a quick overview of the things you should take care of:

1. Get Your Sprinkler Package Chart
Find a copy of the sprinkler package chart. This contains the location of all sprinklers and pressure regulators along the center pivot. It will also include detailed information for each sprinkler’s nozzle size or flow rate. You’ll need it a little later when you’re walking along your pivot verifying sprinkler location and noting potential issues.

2. Flush Your System
Check the main pipe running from the well to the pivot itself for any potential leaks. Next, remove the sand trap on your pivot and flush the entire system for several minutes. (Make sure the system is not under pressure when you remove the sand trap!) This will flush out any debris or foreign materials that may plug the sprinkler heads or pressure regulators.

Sprinklers on the first few spans are particularly prone to plugging due to their smaller nozzles size so we recommend a good system flush at least once a year.

3. Check System Pressures
Using a pressure gauge, verify your pressure at the pump, pivot point, and at the end of the pivot. Make sure you operate the center pivot  at the design pressure.

Pressure should be at least 5 PSI above the pressure regulator rating. If you have a 10 PSI pressure regulator, your pressure gauge should read a minimum of 15 PSI. Compare the numbers to the design pressure in your sprinkler package chart to make sure everything matches.

Note: It’s best to check pressure with the pivot parked in the same location!

4. Check System Flows 
Sometimes farmers discover that the nozzles along each span do not correspond with what the printout indicates. This is why it’s important to keep your chart on hand

Check the system flow rates by comparing each sprinkler to the corresponding outlet on the chart. Each sprinkler’s nozzle and flow rate should match the number on the sprinkler package chart. If the nozzles are wrong, you may be over or under watering.

If you have a flow meter, verify that it’s taking the correct measurements. Solving issues like a flow meter not receiving a signal or unstable flow rates might require a little detective work on your part using your flow meter installation and troubleshooting guide.

5. Evaluate Sprinkler’s Wetted Patterns
Visually inspect all sprinklers for potential damage, lost parts, and for consistency and uniformity in their distribution patterns. Assure that sprinkler overlap is sufficient.

Disassemble any sprinklers with poor distribution patterns or overlap and check for plugging or defective parts. Sprinklers can wear out and will stop rotating – or rotate out of control. Check sprinkler deflector pads to ensure they do not have a build-up of materials that could affect the distribution pattern or flow rate. You might also notice kinked or damaged drop hoses that need fixing.

Sprinkler issues can result in extra water being applied is some areas and insufficient water being applied in others. This affects water application uniformity and can reduce yields.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, depending on the location of the problem along the pivot pipeline, the economic impact of a single sprinkler problem can be significant in the amount of yield reduction it causes. This is especially true for sprinklers on the outer 30 percent of the center pivot.

If You Notice Something’s Off….
Hopefully, you won’t notice any runoff or a lack of uniformity while inspecting your sprinklers, but if you do:
  • Go back to your sprinkler package chart and check the nozzle sizes and placement of sprinklers that are showing problems – they may be incorrectly installed.
  • Consider evaluating your tillage practices to enhance infiltration and decrease runoff.
  • Evaluate your system and consider whether a new sprinkler package would be beneficial. Select a sprinkler device that irrigates with low application intensity over a large diameter, and creates relatively large droplets that can combat wind-drift and evaporation.
  • If you want to renozzle your system, check with your local power company for possible incentives when you switch to lower pressure systems.

Senninger® Irrigation
A Valley® Irrigation Authorized Provider

Founded in 1963, Senninger Irrigation, Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of agricultural irrigation products. These include sprinklers, spray nozzles and pressure regulators. Senninger products are made in the United States and sold worldwide through qualified dealers. Products can be found in farms, nurseries, greenhouses, open fields, as well as mining operations. Senninger is dedicated to low pressure, high performance irrigation solutions. 

This post was written by Nicole Alvarez, the technical writer for Senninger.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Introducing Root Demand Irrigation™ | by Shannon Peterson

Valmont® Irrigation has launched a new brand – Root Demand Irrigation™. RDI™ is a sister company to Valley® Irrigation, so I want to introduce you to this innovative, subsurface irrigation solution.

RDI is based on the natural process of plant growth. Water is released by the plant roots via the proprietary RDI.

“How does that work,” you ask? Plant roots continuously secrete chemicals – called exudates – that serve various functions. When a plant needs water, it discharges exudates. The exudates change the surface tension on the RDI tube and that releases water to the plant’s roots. 

Essentially: the plant signals when it needs water and the RDI tube responds to that signal.

This plant-driven irrigation solution will allow growers to maximize production on all their acres, especially corners and hard-to-reach areas, making it the perfect complement to center pivot irrigation.

Intrigued? I invite you to visit and its blog, “Get to the Root,” to learn more.

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She writes and edits materials about irrigation equipment. Shannon enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for tourism magazines. She also likes trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mobile Apps for BaseStation3 Keep Growers Connected | by John Campbell

Back when I worked on the original BaseStation™, a grower’s shop was the center of his operations. Everything that needed to happen was managed from that small but busy center of activity. That’s not the case now. A grower’s command center is really wherever the farmer happens to be. On the road, at home, in the field, or even on vacation, the smartphone that connects him to his farm never leaves his side. 

BaseStation3 has mobile apps that were designed specifically for either Apple® iOS or Android® operation systems. That means that it was designed from the very beginning to work with those devices. 

The mobile apps for BaseStation3 are bright easy to see in the sun; have a clean, modern design; are intuitive to use; and give the grower the ability to stay informed and in control. Wherever. Whenever.

* * *

Learn more about BaseStation3 in this interview with John Campbell, or stop by the Valley booth at Husker Harvest Days to meet John and see a BaseStation3 demo.

John Campbell
Advanced Technology Product Manager

John Campbell coordinates all of the Valley remote control and monitoring technology products, including BaseStation3. John lives in north Omaha, where he pursues his many hobbies, including classic cars and running.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Valmont Irrigation Western Europe and West Africa is Beginning its European and African Tour | by Pauline Merz

That’s it, it’s done: the Valmont® Irrigation Western Europe and West Africa (WE&WA) team has scheduled its tour for the pleasure of the irrigation farmers. We are touring in support of our new products VFlex™ Corner, advanced control technologies, and the world’s longest 72 m span, as well as what has made our reputation - the  Model 8120 center pivot and the Universal Linear.

We will present in different places of the world: France (INNOVAGRI 2014- Sept 2-4 in Outarville and AQUANIDE 2014: Sept 22-24 in Saint-Pierre d’Amilly), Italy (EIMA 2014- Nov 12-16 in Bologna) and Nigeria (AGRA INNOVATE 2014: Nov 18-20 in Lagos).

These events will be a new opportunity for the Valley® band to meet their Valley equipment users, which is always a great moment spent together to exchange experiences and discuss projects and future strategies for good and durable agricultural practices.

Not yet fond of Valley? Don’t worry! You still have time to come see it for yourself and let yourself be convinced that Valley irrigation equipment and technology are the best that you can find in the industry of mechanized irrigation.

For the organization of this tour, as always, Valmont Irrigation WE&WA team will be supported by their most faithful fans who are their professional regional dealers, without whom no tour is possible: France (Groupe Lecoq, Ets Cornet, Chesneau AgriTech; Ballanger, Billaud-Segeba, Electro’Tech Service), Italy (Agriosso, Agrostar, Consorcio) and Nigeria (SCOA).

If you need further information about the Valmont Irrigation WE&WA Tour, take a look at the following websites.
After that, you will understand why Valley is the worldwide leader in the mechanized irrigation industry. So don’t waste your time: save the dates and come to see us!

Pauline Merz
Marketing Responsible - Western Europe & West Africa

Pauline joined Valmont Irrigation in 2012. After being in charge of the French market (Spare Parts and Marketing activities), she became Marketing Responsible for Western Europe & West Africa. Native of France, Pauline has been living in Spain for 3 years. She enjoys meeting new people and discovers other cultures through their way of life. Pauline is also fond of sports such as mountain biking, trekking and tennis.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Valley University Nominated for National Global Learning Award | by Kelly Schultze

Valley University is Valley® Irrigation’s go-to resource for dealership training and development. Our goal is to gather and share knowledge of Valley products and practices to help dealerships around the world increase their expertise in sales, service, and aftermarket parts. 

Valley University has grown from serving domestic dealerships to serving dealerships in 34 countries, with training courses available in five different languages.

In the last six months, we have increased our international course availability and user growth exponentially. It is thanks to these efforts that the Valley University team has become a finalist in the Chief Learning Officer® 2014 Learning in Practice awards in the Global Learning category.

Our team is dedicated to providing all of our dealerships with the most up-to-date information to assist them in their daily operation. From pivot construction to seasonal maintenance, from the United States to South Africa, it is our goal to educate and assist Valley dealerships around the world, so we continuously grow and improve together.

Other finalists in the 2014 Learning in Practice award for Global Learning include Hewlett-Packard, MetLife, Western Union, Marriott International, and the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute. 

The awards will be announced during the Chief Learning Officer Symposium, Oct. 6-8. Wish us luck!

Kelly Schultze
E-Learning Instructional Designer

Kelly joined Valley Irrigation in early 2014 as an E-Learning Instructional Designer. When she isn’t at work, she is typically creating replica costumes and props from films, comics, and television shows. Kelly also enjoys learning languages and is conversational in French and Korean. She loves to travel, and has lived abroad while studying in South Africa and South Korea.