Thursday, April 17, 2014

Create a Good Recipe for Your Farm | by Bruce Moeller

Everybody knows that good recipes are treasured family heirlooms. Some are so special that family fortunes sustaining generations have spawned from great-great-grandma’s Old Country Liver and Onion Cookies or that pharmacist in Atlanta who accidently mixed carbonated water into his sugar water confection.

Your farm has a recipe too and it is every bit as important to your farming business and, quite possibly, to the sustainability of several generations of your own.

Maybe your recipe won’t produce a Midwest version of a future Paris Hilton and the equivalent “Simple Life” reality TV series, but it can become your secret weapon for producing high-yield, high-income crops with low and efficient input costs.

Your recipe may look something like the one below: calling for a particular build up of energy available to the crop before fruiting and a dry down prior to harvest; careful to stay in the optimum zone –not veering into the over-saturated zone for yield loss and leaching; and preventing crop stress that risks yield loss and undesirable size and quality traits.

Each season, you need a strategy that reflects your best judgment and experience about how much of what to put on when and where in order to achieve maximum yield at minimum cost.

That is, of course, your own private recipe for success. If it is important enough to generate in the first place, and important enough to guide you in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ingredients to achieve that just right recipe, then it is important enough to measure and monitor.

That’s where Valley® Soil Pro™ 1200 comes in to help you generate and compare your recipes, as well as monitor root receptivity and reaction to your particular blend of nutrient concoction.

The daily web-based access will alert you whenever your crop is veering away from your strategy. It also allows you can see root growth as it happens and see where the active root zone takes in those ingredients.

Over time and with the correlative relationships from field to field , crop to crop, and season to season, SoilPro 1200 will help you make sense of the data. It will tell you that when you did this, you got that result, and when it was different, what was common to those differences.

It is your life, your business, your intelligence, and your sustainable legacy at stake here. Plan, execute, measure, monitor, conclude, and incorporate dynamic changes. You’re the chef; let’s use science to create a winning recipe.

Bruce Moeller

Bruce is a guest writer for the Growing the Conversation blog by Valley. He is the chief executive officer for AquaSpy™ and a former EY Entrepreneur of the Year. He has led many enterprises to top market positions, primarily in the areas of information management and applied behavioral science. Venture-backed at Cultureworx, DriveCam, and now AquaSpy, Bruce is especially adept at finding new ways for cutting-edge concepts to be quickly adopted into mainstream markets. He has been a frequent guest on national news programs such as “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bringing Tire Technology to the Ag Industry | by Vanessa Hargrave

Almost half of U.S. drivers don't
recognize tire-pressure warning light.
TPMS is an acronym that in the last decade has risen from a basically unknown term to a household name. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the mass majority really understands what TPMS means, how the technology works, and the benefits it can provide to users. Possibly even more unknown is the wide-use applications that TPMS can be utilized on to add those benefits; including uses in the agriculture market. Luckily, Valley® Irrigation and PressurePro™ have teamed up to help growers better understand what TPMS is, how it works and how you can put it to work for your operations.

First, what is TPMS? TPMS traditionally stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. Typically, a TPMS unit consists of two main components; Sensors, which fit either to a valve stem or in a tire, and a Monitor, which fits in-cab or at a central location. Sensors use RF signals to send low-pressure alerts to the Monitor, so a driver or operator is aware of the problem. Today; however, PressurePro has helped morph this definition, through expanded technology capabilities, to Tire Performance Management Solutions.

No longer are TPMS units simply providing low-pressure warnings. Today, leading units can give users complete performance information, including real-time readings, high- and low-pressure and temperature alerts, data-logged information, remote-monitoring capabilities, and more. Essentially, these small units can provide users with a complete view of tire performance, both real time and historically, so users can better analyze, diagnose, remedy, and even predict tire problems before they become costly.

In the transportation market, this is helping fleets of all types and sizes revolutionize tire maintenance programs while adding significant savings and efficiencies. Tires run at optimal pressure save fuel, experience extended life and decreased downtime, and create safer driving conditions through improved handling and braking, and more. But that’s in trucking, how can TPMS assist me with my operation or on my Ag equipment?

The parallels between the transportation market and ag market are many. Just as with transportation, up-time, efficiency, and yield are top priorities for growers. A tractor, combine, crop hauler, or center pivot experiencing equipment downtime due to a tire problem cripples work. In the case of a center pivot, experiencing low tire pressure not only decreases yield, it can literally rip up your profits by plowing through crops and causing costly damage to tires, rims, and gearboxes. To help growers combat these losses of efficiency and yield, PressurePro and Valley partnered to create Valley TPMS – a custom solution for center pivots.

Valley TPMS not only allows users of Valley Pro2 control panels the ability to receive real-time tire performance information directly on their control panel, it also brings remote-monitoring capabilities to Valley BaseStation™ users; literally putting tire performance at their fingertips. Used by Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) in New Mexico, Valley TPMS has helped NAPI bring real-time monitoring to an operation that includes more than 10,000 tires.
NAPI Irrigation Manager Anthony Valdez said that detecting a low tire before it fails has decreased pivot downtime during the peak irrigation season, when irrigating is critical to maximizing yields. 

"The ability to identify low-pressure warnings in the tires also has really helped to reduce service costs," Valdez said. "With the tire pressure monitoring system, we can now preempt labor and fuel costs, as well as time, by knowing when a tire is low."  

To learn more about Valley TPMS or how TPMS can be put to work for your operations, contact your local Valley dealer.

Vanessa Hargrave

Vanessa is a guest writer for the Growing the Conversation blog by Valley. As PressurePro's Director of Marketing, Vanessa is in charge planning and executing all of the company's national and international marketing campaigns. With PressurePro since 2004, she is responsible for developing, designing, and maintaining all of PressurePro's branding, advertising, and marketing campaigns. A noted voice in TPMS education and information, Vanessa remains devoted to safety, savings, and environmental benefits, both on-road and off, through revolutionized tire management.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Valley Values – Precision | by Matt Ondrejko

The Valley® brand tag line is “The Leader in Precision Irrigation.” 
Valley VRI Zone Control can divide a field
into more than 5,000 management zones

This statement was not arbitrarily chosen or one that simply sounded good to us. On the contrary, it encompasses the approach we take on every product we build, every solution we engineer, and every application we develop for our customers.  

We – here at Valley – pride ourselves on the reliability and durability we build into every product that we engineer and manufacture, and that is a direct function of the strict quality standards we hold ourselves to. The precision in our manufacturing processes result in products that are efficiently and correctly built time and time again, assuring our customers of the Valley quality they have come to expect over the last 60 years.  

Our engineered solutions, such as Variable Rate Irrigation, water application, and BaseStation3™, provide our growers with precise water application and remote management when and where they need it.  

Precision is ingrained in our way of life at Valley.  

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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Four Tips for Getting Your Sprinklers Ready to Roll

Winter means downtime for sprinklers. As the new growing season approaches (in North America), it is important to get your machine ready, and the sprinkler package is a key item to focus on.

Here are some tips to get your sprinkler package into tip-top shape:

1. Use the sprinkler reports supplied with the sprinkler package and check that all sprinkler components are correct and installed in the proper location on the machine.

2. Operate the sprinkler package (running the machine with water) and visually inspect all sprinklers to verify they are operating correctly. Inspect sprinklers for variations in the water pattern. Problems to look for are plugged nozzles or worn wear plates.

3. Watch for leaks from the sprinkler, pressure regulator, and drop components when running the machine with water. Replace broken or damaged components.

4. Check that the operating pivot pressure matches the design pressure. For sprinkler packages with pressure regulators, Valley® recommends placing a pressure gauge in the drop tube at the end of the machine at the highest elevation in the field to verify that the end pressure is sufficient to operate the pressure regulators. All pressure regulators require 5 PSI over the nominal pressure rating that is stamped on the regulator. For example, a 10 PSI pressure regulator requires 15 PSI entering the regulator for proper operation.

Finally, don’t forget that at about 10,000 operating hours, growers should consider replacing sprinklers and pressure regulators. This varies based on water quality issues, such as using clean water or dirty water, and whether the water includes sand or other debris. At 10,000 hours, wear in the sprinkler nozzle, sprinkler wear plate, and pressure regulator will alter the sprinkler flow rate and water pattern distribution, which reduces the sprinkler package uniformity.

New sprinkler components - combined with a properly designed complete sprinkler package - ensure uniformity and efficiency are at the highest possible values. High uniformity and efficiency ensure that you are maximizing yields from the valuable water you apply during the season.

To summarize, your sprinkler package is one of the most critical components on a center pivot or linear machine – don’t be afraid to invest in new and updated technology.

Adapted from PivotPoint Spring 2012 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Global Blog Posts | by Michelle Stolte

The world is a big place, and yet there are so many similarities through all our countries that sometimes it takes me by surprise. 

Starting this spring, we will be including blog posts from our co-workers around the world, who have graciously agreed to submit updates to us for our blog. They will enlighten us all about the vast differences as well as the similarities between agriculture and irrigation in their markets versus ours here in the USA.  

Our colleagues will talk about the happenings in their markets - this may be an agricultural field day or trade show, a new project we just installed, struggles of the local growers, or information about the market in general. I think you will find these posts interesting, maybe eye-opening, and potentially not that different from what you experience in your own backyard. 

Please help welcome our new global bloggers to the Growing the Conversation blog!

Michelle Stolte
Global Marketing Manager

Michelle has been at Valley Irrigation for more than 10 years and is finally no longer a newbie! She has spent her entire time at Valley in the Marketing Department (international and domestic) and loves every minute of it. Michelle enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband. She also likes reading, swing dancing (although she isn't really that good...), and warm weather.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Navigating the Data Frontier in Irrigated Agriculture | by Andy Smith

The use of data in farm management is a hot topic in all areas of agriculture these days. Precision ag tools are leading to strategies such as variable rate seeding, geo-referenced yield monitoring, and many platforms for machinery management. Each of these systems is capable of generating a great deal of data. 

Data science applied to irrigation is no exception. As technologies such as connected machines, soil moisture sensors, and variable rate irrigation are becoming more commonplace, the irrigation-specific data stream is expanding rapidly.

I am not sure who said it, but the quote comes to mind: "We are drowning in information, but starved for knowledge." Growers need tools that turn these endless streams of data into actionable information to help them take full advantage of opportunities to increase yield and optimize inputs.

At Valley®, we are actively participating in a variety of consortiums focused specifically on the ag data arena. We know that the appropriate application of this mix of technology can significantly improve productivity and curtail waste. We also know that the inappropriate application of such technology can be a waste of time and resources, as well as a source of great frustration.

Another quote from an unknown author comes to mind, "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should." Technology is a great enabler, but it can be nothing more than a distraction. This brings to mind another quote I heard from the late Stephen Covey, "Technology must be your servant, not your master."

Recently, we rolled out BaseStation3™. BaseStation3 represents the most powerful, yet flexible, irrigation management platform ever developed. BaseStation3 turns data from a variety of agronomic sources into relevant, understandable information that will aid irrigation management decisions.

BaseStation3 will continue to evolve and add features, but make no mistake, BaseStation3 will not be a distraction. This platform is focused on managing irrigation. That means helping growers make irrigation decisions based upon timely, accurate, and relevant information from a variety of sources; then turning those decisions into irrigation applications through connected Valley machines.

It sounds simple, but it's easy to get distracted. At Valley, we are focused on the science of irrigation. As far as BaseStation3 goes, your servant awaits.

Andrew Smith
Director of Industry Relations

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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Keeping Up with Valley Part I: Google Alerts | by Kelly Cox

 If you’re reading this blog, we know that you are a Valley® enthusiast! If not…well, we can change that around pretty fast. And, if you want to be, but don’t know where to start, we can help with that, too!

This blog post is the first in a how-to-find-Valley-in-the-digital-world-and-beyond series. In this post, I’ll walk you through one great way to get instant updates on Valley Irrigation and the Valley brand.

Subscribing to a FREE Google Alert about Valley will send the latest news about the company and brand to your email inbox. Setting up a Google Alert is easy – just follow these steps:

1. From your favorite web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer…Opera…), navigate to You’ll then see a box that looks like this:

2. In the box that says “Search Query,” type in “Valley Irrigation.” (without the period after the word “Irrigation”)

3. From there, choose the Result Type you would like to receive in your email inbox. Choose:

  • “Everything” to get alerts of every kind of media published online about Valley.
  • “News” to just receive press release and news article alerts.
  • “Blogs” if you would like to receive alerts when a new “Growing the Conversation” blog post is published, or even when Valley is mentioned in some other blog!
  • “Video” to receive alerts of a newly published Valley video on YouTube.
  • “Discussions” to keep up-to-date with forum threads that are either about or mention Valley.
  • “Books” when a new e-book is published about Valley…I recommend you don’t just choose this one - alerts will be seldom, at best.

4. Next, choose how often you would like to receive emails from our friend Google: as-it-happens, once a day, or once a week. I prefer the “once a day” setting, as I A) don’t want to be bombarded with emails and B) want to know the day of when something new is published and available for my perusal.

5. The last setting for you to choose is “How many,” which is asking you “What quality of results do you want us to send ya?” You have two settings from which to choose: receive “Only the best results” or receive “All results.” The “All results” setting is a bit subjective; as a marketing professional and overall digital media geek, I want to see anything that could be about our company and brand, even if it ends up being completely irrelevant (that’s what the Delete button was invented for). However, you may want to try your hand at the “Only the best results setting;” however, keep in mind that the “Only the best results” setting is probably being filtered by robots and not by a real human, so you may miss out on some of the Valley awesomeness.

6. Last but not least, enter your email address, so Google knows where to send your Valley alerts!

7. I lied in No. 6…the very last thing you need to do is hit the “CREATE ALERT” button. You can’t miss it.

So, a finished Google Alert, with the settings described above, should look like this:

In the “Search Query” field, you don’t just have to type in “Valley Irrigation” to get results from Valley. Other options include:
  • Valley
  • Irrigation
  • Valmont Irrigation
  • Valmont Industries
  • Center Pivot Irrigation
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Precision Irrigation
And, the best part about Google Alerts (other than the fact that it’s FREE and only takes about 10 seconds to set up) is that you can set up as many Google Alerts as you want – the sky is the limit!  

Try out Google Alerts for yourself. Take it for a spin, buy it dinner, and let us know about your experience with Valley-themed Google Alerts in the Comments box below!

Kelly Cox
Global Digital Marketing Manager

Kelly joined the Valley Irrigation Global Marketing Department in 2008. Her love of all things geek (steampunk furniture, anime, Doctor Who, and science fiction/fantasy literature, just to name a few) helped shape her appreciation for technology and the web. Kelly is a newlywed and new homeowner, where she shares her geekery with her husband. She considers herself a wine connoisseur (though, 3 buck Chuck is delicious!) and has a love of painting, dance, and singing.