Friday, April 30, 2010

Arbor Day | April 30, 2010

Plant a tree today!

As both a native and current Nebraskan, I am proud to honor Arbor Day, which was founded in 1885 by Nebraskan J. Sterling Morton. Arbor Day celebrates the planting of trees.

Valley center pivot on orange trees
Interesting Facts about Trees
  • Did you know that most apple trees do not self-pollinate?  You will more than likely need to plant more than one apple tree in order for your tree to bear fruit. You may also need to cross breed for pollination to be completely effective.
  • Did you know that oak trees will not produce acorns until they are at least 20 years of age? Oak trees will produce these nuts typically in the Autumn months.
  • Did you know that the largest tree resides in California?  The Redwood (or Sequoia) averages a height of  360 feet.

What is your favorite tree and why?  Does it encourage memories of past summer days or family picnics?  Please help us celebrate Arbor Day by taking a moment to reflect on this question.  If you would like, please write your answer/story in the Comments box below!

Happy Arbor Day!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Circles for Rice | Weekly Update

United States

In most of the Circles for Rice fields, the rice crop under center pivots is off to a fast start!  As there has not been significant rain for at least 10 days in many field locations, the rice seed was planted in dry, or relatively dry, seed bed (photo below).  A light application of irrigation through the center pivots has not only activated pre-emergence herbicides, but has also helped settle the soil and germinate the rice.  Last weekend (April 23 through April 25), the rice received between 1/4" and 3/4" of irrigation, and 3/4" to 3" of rain, varying by location.

Miscellaneous Information about Rice under Pivots and Linears

A traditionally flooded rice field will take between 54,000 and 81,000 gallons per acre.  Compared with these numbers, a rice field irrigated with center pivot and lateral move (linears) technology will only need to take 7,000 to 14,000 gallons per acre. 

When irrigating rice with center pivots and linears, the grower does not need to take time to map fields and pull levees - he or she only needs to walk up to the center pivot and press "start"!

Notice the photo below - very small weeds are present.  At this size, focus on controlling the weeds.

How is your growing 2010 season progressing so far?  If you have a thought to share, or a question about producing rice under center pivots and linears, please write in the Comments box below.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Top 10 Maintenance Tips | Series 3

5. Sprinkler Package - Sprinkler packages should be changed at least every 10,000 hours of operation.  Regularly check for broken or worn sprinkler components and replace them as needed.  Also consider running a new sprinkler design, which could maximize efficiency for soil and crop types.

6. Energy Efficiency - You can minimize water pumping costs by lowering pressure when possible.  To ensure that water is being used efficiently, check the machine's water pressure at the pivot point.  For sprinkler packages with pressure regulators, check the line pressure at the last tower.

Do you have questions about your center pivot or linear's maintenance?  Post your questions in the Comments box below.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Circles for Rice | Weekly Update

United States

Over the next two weeks, local Valley dealers will be making adjustments to the Circles for Rice center pivots. These changes include updating various hardware to best meet the needs of each individual field. Members of the Circles for Rice team will be installing soil moisture monitoring equipment in the fields. 

Currently, 4 of the 9 Circles for Rice commercial fields have been planted; 0 Circles for Rice research fields have been planted. So far, planted hybrid seed include RiceTec Clearfield XL729, XL745, and XP746. All commercial fields are using Command during pre-emergence. Once this is applied, growers will apply light irrigation to activate the herbicide and "settle" the seedbed so there is good soil/seed contact and moisture around the seed.

The Circles for Rice team is beginning to schedule irrigation based on crop modeling, soil moisture data, and field data. Weekly scouting of the commercial fields has also begun.

Because activity has picked up in the United States after a long winter, I will be updating the blog on a more frequent basis.

Questions and comments are welcome!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Conservation Innovation Grant Information
Each year, the NRCS offers Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) competitive funds to accepted eligible projects that focus on both innovation and conservation; CIG monies are distributed with two competitions - the National competition and the State competition.  A complete explanation of the grant can be found here.

The 2010 CIG competitions were announced last week.  This is an exciting opportunity for those involved in the agriculture industry! Some eligible competition project focuses include (but are not limited to):
  • Adopting Management for Improved Conservation Effects
  • Energy
  • Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture
  • Soil Quality
  • Nutrient Management
  • Specialty Crops

Hurry!  Eligible growers may turn in the preliminary applications until Monday, April 26, 2010, at 4:00 PM Eastern.  For a complete list of eligible participants and suggested project focuses, please visit .

Rice under center pivots and linear machines is now eligible for EQIP in Louisiana, USA!  Contact your local NRCS office to see if rice produced under center pivots and linear machines is eligible for EQIP in your area.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Circles for Rice | Weekly Update

2010 Growing Season
The growing season is moving fast in North America!  As spring sets in, fields are drying out from the long winter.  Farm work has begun, and the first rice seed will be planted late this week and early next by the commercial growers with whom Valley is collaborating.

Weed Control
Most of the Circles for Rice commercial growers will use a a split application of Command: part will be applied during pre-plant/pre-emergence, part will be applied during post-emergence (rice leaf stages 1-2).  This split application method should help extend its effectiveness for a longer period of time.  At rice leaf stages 4-5, most growers will probably use a combination of Propanil and Facet.  See Figure 1. for rice growth chart.

Always read a product's label use the rates that match your soil type.

Fig 1. Rice Growth Stage Chart
(visit the blog at for entire chart)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top 10 Maintenance Tips | Series 2

3. Motor Contactors - Damaged motor contactors can reduce the life of the drive unit motor, so be sure to inspect and replace worn contactors.

4. Tire Pressure - Tires are vital to the operation of irrigation equipment. Be sure to check the pressure and tighten the lug bolts, as well as evaluate the overall tire condition.