Thursday, March 5, 2015

What is a Boomback? | by Jerry Gerdes

The term boomback doesn’t seem like it would be related to center pivot irrigation. But boomback products have been used on center pivot and linear move equipment for more than 30 years. Their function is to reduce the sprinkler package Instantaneous Application Rate (IAR) on the soil. This will eliminate or reduce water runoff, increasing the application efficiency of the equipment.
Boombacks on a complete span

The IAR, typically measured in inches/hour, of a center pivot gradually increases from a very low value near the center point to a high value at the end of the machine. Another way to describe IAR in terms of rainfall is the area near the center point is a light drizzle and the area at the end of the machine is a heavy rainfall. If the IAR exceeds the soil infiltration rate, runoff will occur.

Studies done by research facilities show that using Boombacks can reduce runoff. The recent study “Efficacy of Boom Systems in Controlling Runoff under Center Pivots and Linear Move Irrigation Systems” published in Applied Engineering in Agriculture by Troy Peters, an extension irrigation specialist at Washington State University, found that boombacks can reduce runoff by 24 percent. (Download the full study here.)

Field conditions with heavy soils and/or slopes are examples where boombacks are frequently used. A typical installation will have boombacks fitted on the last 25 to 33 percent of the center pivot length.

A boomback is designed to place a low pressure sprinkler 12 to 15 feet (length depends on the manufacturer) away from and perpendicular to the span pipeline. This effectively increases the footprint of the sprinkler package water pattern 24 to 30 feet, decreasing the IAR.  Boombacks can be installed using one per sprinkler position, alternating them on each side of the span pipeline in successive sprinkler positions, or two boombacks per sprinkler position, one on each side of the span pipeline at each sprinkler position.

Part circle sprinklers with Boombacks
Another function of boombacks is to use them with part circle sprinklers near a drive unit. In this application, the boombacks are all placed on the same side of the span pipeline opposite the direction of travel.

For part circle center pivots and linear machines, double boombacks are available with specialized control hardware to turn on the correct sprinklers based on the direction of travel. 

Keeping water away from the wheel track area as the machine moves through the field, will reduce rutting and the possibility of drive wheels getting stuck.

Jerry Gerdes
Product Manager - Water Application

Jerry, Nebraska-based Water Application Product Manager, contributes years of experience from his time working for a sprinkler manufacturer prior to joining Valley Irrigation. Currently working with different sprinkler manufacturers, Jerry develops the recommendations for the optimum water application package for a grower's operation.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Visiting Our Growers | by Matt Ondrejko

One of the great things about my job is having the opportunity to spend time with our Valley® dealers and growers talking about products, business and their general outlook on things. 

In early February, I was fortunate enough to be invited down to southwest Indiana to spend time with Scates Valley Irrigation. The Scates team services growers in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, and boy does the team do a great job. 
Scates Valley Open House

I spent one day visiting large growers from the Scates territory, all farming 10,000 acres or more. It was awesome to hear firsthand how Valley products have made a difference in their operations for many years and often generations. The area is a hotbed for irrigation, and the growers certainly know the power of getting water efficiently and effectively to the crops. This area tends to be heavy in soybeans and corn and has very sandy soils due to its proximity to the Wabash River.

The really interesting thing for me was the amount of farms using remote management products such as Valley BaseStation™
 and AgSense® Field Commanders®. Even though most of the center pivots are in relatively close proximity to each other, on average a 5- to 10-mile radius, the benefits of using these products are too valuable to ignore. One grower told me that he was able to eliminate putting 200 miles per week on each of his trucks because he didn’t have to physically go to every machine, every day. Instead of driving out to every machine every day, he could plan his day and week in a more methodical way. While the upfront cost of these products is a large investment, the payoff is swift, and the tangible benefits are quickly realized.

The acceleration of technology and its benefits continue to seep in to farming. Whether it is remote monitoring solutions for irrigation, soil moisture monitoring or bin management, technology makes farming more efficient and creates true economic benefit for these growers.

Scates Valley Irrigation hosted an Open House while I was visiting that attracted more than 100 local farmers interested in learning about these technologies and discussing “what’s new” in the industry. The sophistication of growers continues to evolve, and finding solutions to their needs is what keeps me up at night. What a great trip!

Scates Valley Open House

Matt Ondrejko

VP Global Marketing

The one word that can sum up Matt is "enthusiasm!" He likes to be on-the-go and have fun along the way. Matt loves music and the 1980s era. He is a child of the MTV generation and has a deep appreciation of all music genres (specifically, he is a huge Dave Matthews Band groupie). Matt has traveled to more than 70 countries around the world and enjoys learning about different cultures and people. He spent three years living with his family in Leuven, Belgium, trying to enjoy as many of the 700+ beers they brew there.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How Maintaining Constant Pressure on Your Pivot Can Save You 35 to 40 Percent in Pumping Costs | by Jonny Branom

Growers that use corner machines or have some elevation changes in their field know that there can be a big variance in pressure at the end of their pivot. In a typical corner machine, the difference in pressure can be as much as 35 to 40 PSI between when the corner is extended or retracted.

With a Valley Drive Connect® and a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) in your installation, you can maintain a constant pressure at the end of your pivot regardless of the elevation differences you may have, or the position of the corner machine if you use one.

Valley Drive Connect mounts on the end of your pivot and uses a pressure transmitter to measure pressure. The pressure feedback is then sent back to your VFD wirelessly, to adjust your pump speed to maintain constant pressure.

By only supplying your pivot the pressure it needs to operate correctly, you can save up to 40 percent in pumping costs, eliminate pressure spikes, prolong sprinkler regulator life and help prevent pipeline blow outs. Valley Drive Connect can also be used in conjunction with Valley Pump Connect®. Now you can have pressure feedback from the end of your machine and on/off control from your pivot point, all wirelessly back to your VFD.

Valley Water Management and your local Valley dealer are committed to bringing you the very latest in money-saving pumping technologies. For more information, please contact your local Valley dealer.

Jonny Branom
Project Sales Manager – Valley Water Management

Jonny joined Valley Water Management in 2013 as the Western project sales manager. He has more 15 years of experience in industrial automation, instrumentation, wireless controls and VFDs. Jonny has been working with Valley dealers for many years solving control and pumping needs. He lives with his wife, Tammy, and two children in Spokane, WA, and enjoys many outdoor activities around the Inland Northwest.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Valley Growers in the Farm Pubs | by Shannon Peterson

It seems like every time I pick up a farm publication lately, I find an article about one of our customers and his successful operation. There are great ideas and tips in these stories, so I thought I would share a few of the most recent features.

Using Tech to Maximize Inputs,

There isn’t much waste on the 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat that Joel Armistead produces with the help of his son, Zach, near Adairville, Kentucky. In fact, with the exception of 150 acres that host a 122-acre center pivot unit, Armistead typically harvests three crops in two years. On the other hand, Armistead isn’t afraid to make an investment when it has the potential to increase yields.

One example of that occurred in 2008, when Armistead installed a 1,200-foot center pivot on a bottomland field and started irrigating out of a creek that runs around part of the farm. It turned out to be one of the best investments he ever made. Read the full story ...  

* * *

Tech Tools that Save Water,

Until recently, Richard Wacker thought his 16-row strip-till machine was one of the best tools for reducing irrigation on his 4,000-acre, center-pivot irrigated farm near Yuma, Colorado.

After all, he eliminated the need for 1 to 1.5 inches of water almost immediately when he began strip-tilling nearly eight years ago.

…While strip-till and cover crops have done their share to conserve water, Wacker insists his best water-conservation tool these days is his iPad. Read the full story ...

* * *

Water Management Tips for 2015, Nebraska Farmer Irrigation Extra 

Aaron Zimmerman

The severe drought of 2012 proved how crucial water quantity is to irrigators. So, innovative growers have adopted ways to maintain yields and save water at the same time. Aaron Zimmerman of Pierce, Neb., who farms sandier soils

with his brother Ryan, has been working over the past two years on strategies to save water, cut expenses and improve the bottom line. With commodity grain prices dipping far below 2013 levels, Aaron is trying to get the most yield pop per pivot drop. Read the full story ...

With a sidebar on AgSense
® technology, Monitor maker looks at the future of the technology

* * *

Energy Trust Lends a Hand with Irrigation Efficiency, Capital Press – The West’s Ag Website

… Seus Family Farms owner Scott Seus, said he has installed in several on-farm VFD pumps on his wells in Oregon and California. “That’s where you save because you can fine tune the settings,” he said.

“Instead of the old way, which was just go turn on a switch and what you get is what you get, you can change the setpoint to how many gallons per minute you are pulling,” Seus said. “You only draw out of the ground what you are actually using.” Read the full story ...

* * *

Have you read any great features on farmers lately? Or has a publication written about you? Share links to the stories in the comments section below.

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, February 19, 2015

Connecting Pressure, Flow and Your Overall Efficiency | by Nicole Alvarez

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

Our team has traveled all over the USA and across the globe and noticed two strange things when it comes to pressure regulation: some growers will tell you that pressure regulation is the best way to save water and energy, while others will claim pressure regulation is nothing but a waste of time and money unless you have sloped fields.

We’ve been highlighting the importance of pressure regulation for years but regulation has never been as important as it is now with drought conditions in numerous areas and diminishing aquifer levels. That’s why we’ve created a quick pressure regulation FAQ list to help explain not just how a regulator works, but why they’re needed and how you can tell if yours is working.

How does a pressure regulator work? 

The basic function of a pressure regulator is to limit excessive and varying inlet pressures to a constant outlet pressure. This is done to maintain the desired performance of a sprinkling device.

Pressure regulators accomplish this by automatically modulating their area of opening. By changing the area of opening as upstream pressures fluctuate, pressure loss through the regulator changes proportionally. This allows them to maintain the downstream pressure at a relative constant.

Why do I need pressure regulators?

No matter what type of irrigation machine you have, correct pressure is essential for optimum distribution uniformity and proper flow through emitters. Crops need the right amount of water at the right time and pressure regulators ensure this need is met.

Sprinklers are made to operate within a specific range of flows and pressures. They’ll maintain their application pattern and adequate droplet size as long as they can operate under normal conditions. If these conditions are altered, their application pattern will be affected and you could easily run into uniformity issues, over or under watering, and irregular crop growth.

What causes pressure deviations?

Every irrigation machine will experience some sort of pressure fluctuation. The most common reasons for pressure fluctuations include:

  • Elevation changes in a field 
  • Pressure loss through pipe fittings 
  • End guns cycling on and off 
  • Cycling of various irrigation zones and valves 
Do I need a pressure regulator with flat land?

Yes! Your system pressure can change due to the various causes listed above and more. Elevation is just one of the many things that cause pressure fluctuations.

No matter what degree of elevation you have, controlling flow and pressure is essential for machines operating at lower pressures. For example, if a system operating at 30 psi (2.07 bar) experiences a 10 percent flow variation, that will result in a 6 PSI (0.41 bar) pressure variation. That flow variation can adversely impact sprinkler performance and ultimately yields.

How does pressure affect my flow rate?

The operating pressure of an irrigation machine always affects the flow rate. Higher pressures increase flow along any pipe. As that flow increases, water velocity increases as well. This results in pressure decreasing downstream due to friction loss. When water is rushing through a pipe at high velocities, the interior walls of the pipe create friction against it, which causes pressure loss.

How long does a pressure regulator last?

Senninger pressure regulators are built using high-impact engineering grade thermoplastics and are 100 percent water-tested at our facilities. However, like sprinklers, they do not last forever. Irrigators are encouraged to check their pressure regulators at least every three years. Factors that can shorten a pressure regulator’s lifespan include:

  • Unflushed chemicals in the pipeline 
  • Suspended abrasive materials in the water 
  • Long operating hours 
How can I tell if a pressure regulator is bad?

Issues such as dry spots near the head, overwatering in a doughnut shaped pattern, uneven crop growth and streaking in the field and misting are all common signs of pressure regulator malfunctions. Using yield maps and even aerial imaging may prove helpful in identifying issues.

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, February 16, 2015

Try Our New BaseStation3 Mobile App Demo | by John Campbell

 "See?" Try to count how many times you say that in one day and you'll probably lose track before dinner. Our lives revolve around what we can see. So even though I have been telling everyone how great the mobile app for Valley® BaseStation3™ is, you really need to see it to believe it. 
Now that’s possible even if you don't own BaseStation3 yet. We added a "Demo" mode that enables anyone to experience the bright, clean layout, the intuitive design and the powerful control our app offers.

Search the correct App store for phone apps (or use these links: iOS or Android) for "Basestation3", download the App and at the bottom of the main screen you'll see the "Demo" button. Selecting that will take you into an interactive simulation of a BaseStation3-connected farm with several pieces of equipment; two Pro2 panels, one Select2 panel and one AuxLink.

With the Demo, you can see the pivot move at an accelerated rate, execute commands, change end gun angles, and try out the Step Program Editor and the Notes feature.

And, even though the App is for phone devices, it was carefully designed so it looks great on a tablet also.

Try the app out and see what all the fuss is about. Then give your Valley dealer a call so he can request a quote to install BaseStation3 at your farm.

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, February 12, 2015

Irrigation Exchange – Connecting BaseStation3 to the Rest of Precision Agriculture | by Andy Smith

Precision agriculture has become a common term throughout farming. Machine guidance, variable rate technology, imagery, mapping and the list goes on. As part of a recent presentation, I spent some time questioning just exactly what precision ag really is. The best definition I was able to glean is as follows:

  • A management system that is information and technology based, is site specific, and uses one or more of the following sources of data: soils, crops, nutrients, pests, moisture or yield, for optimum profitability, sustainability and protection of the environment (adapted from Precision Ag. 2003).

The next step for me was to look for a definition of precision irrigation and I really did not find any consensus on the term. So I posed the following characteristics which I believe help define precision irrigation:
  • An irrigation system that is the extension of precision ag into irrigation. It is information and technology based; spatially and temporally specific; integrates soil, crop, nutrient, pest, applied irrigation, rainfall/moisture, historical yield, yield targets, input costs, regulatory limitations and other factors, and seeks a balanced outcome for optimum profitability, sustainability and protection of the environment while providing measurable feedback.
Valley® Irrigation has been a pioneer and leader in the principles of precision irrigation. With Irrigation Exchange™, Valley is taking another pioneering step by creating a way to connect its proven telemetry system, BaseStation3™, to other software systems being used by farmers to manage crop inputs, machinery, daily operations and the multitude of other critical farm operations. 

Working with other leading agricultural technology providers, Irrigation Exchange makes it possible for farmers to bring all of their information together and take a comprehensive approach to irrigation, in concert with the principles of precision ag.

At Valley, we recognize that irrigation is one of several critical inputs having influence over successful cropping strategies. We also know that agronomy theory must be executed with an understanding of practical limitations.

Farmers have to make choices continuously and with every choice, there is risk. We know that intuition, art and luck are alive and well on the farm and have as much or more influence than science at times. The bottom line, Valley wants to empower farmers to make the best choices possible and Irrigation Exchange is another way we are demonstrating leadership in precision irrigation.

Andrew Smith
Director of Technology Adoption

Andy has spent more than 27 years involved in the irrigation industry as a farmer, contractor, designer, salesman, and trade representative. At Valley, he manages strategic relationships for mechanized irrigation technology across a broad range of applications. Andy lives in northern Michigan with his wife, Kim, and his daughter, Madison, and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities.