Monday, December 23, 2013

See You Next Year

Our bloggers are taking some time off for the holidays. We'll see you in the new year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jump into Social Media and Connect With Your Favorite Brands | by Kelly Cox

Does anyone remember MySpace and your default friend Tom? Well, it’s still around, but has essentially become a niche social network for musicians. I’m pretty sure I still have a MySpace account floating around somewhere, but, without knowing it, it was the first social network I ever dabbled in because it was the “cool thing to use in high school.” That…and AOL Instant Messenger. Different topic for another day.

Facebook was released my freshman year in college. At that time, you had to be a college student with a proper .edu email address in order to create and use a Facebook account. As hard as it is to believe, that was nearly 10 years ago, and Facebook is now open to anyone 13 or older.

The point of my brief history lesson is this: social networks have been around way longer than many people realize. They have been paving the way for new methods of communication for 20 years – no, joke, I looked it up (! They are not something to be afraid of; they are something to embrace.

From a marketing perspective, I know that social media is an incredibly valuable tool; it allows us to show you the people behind our brand and prove that we’re not a bunch of robots. Looking at social media as a consumer, I see that it gives me an easy way to connect and engage with the companies and brands that I just love (Starbucks shout out!). Why is this kind of engagement important?

  • I am the first to learn about new products and promotions.
  • I get exclusive coupons just for engaging with brands on their social network(s) of choice.
  • I have an easy way to ask the company a question regarding its products and services.
  • I have an easy way to complain to the company regarding its products and services.
  • And…(drum roll, please), I get to talk with other people who are just as passionate about that brand as I am, which also allows me to read new product reviews from real people.

There are literally hundreds of social networks that exist today, and not every social network is right for everyone. Different channels allow for different types of messaging, and one of those may be right for you. For those of you who have not yet braved the social media bandwagon, here are a few social networks we suggest you look into first.

  • Facebook – delivers pretty much unlimited messaging, including text, pictures, videos, and events. We have found this social platform to be our most engaging (i.e., the place our followers prefer to Like, reshare, and comment on our posts, as well as ask questions about dealerships and employment opportunities). If you are looking for the social network that is your one-stop shop and the place where you may have the most opportunity to make your voice heard, we recommend you join Facebook.
    • How are WE using Facebook? We use Facebook to share longer pieces of our news releases and blog posts. This has also become our social network of choice to share photographs.
    • Follow

  • Google+ - very much like Facebook, message-wise. If you are a Google junkie, this is the social platform for you!
    • How are WE using Google+? We use Google+ much the same way we use Facebook – to share pieces of news, as well as photos and videos. We joined Google+ to cater to those who are hard-core Googlers.
    • Follow

  • Twitter – delivers very short, to-the-point, real-time messages (called Tweets) that are limited to 140 characters. Many ag companies and ag media use Twitter on a daily basis to share their latest news. If you don’t have a lot of time to poke around the internet, then this may be the social network for you.
    • How are WE using Twitter? We use this social network to share real-time updates from our trade shows, as well as news releases, blog posts, and new pictures and videos. We love to share other companies’ Tweets, including many from our own dealers.
    • Follow

  • YouTube – delivers video. In fact, it reaches more adults than cable TV, which is no surprise with the invention of the smart TV. If you are a visual learner, we recommend jumping on the YouTube train!
    • How are WE using YouTube? To share our videos, of course! We have a plethora of informational videos on our products, as well as irrigation tips and tricks. We have also flagged many ag-related videos we think you will also enjoy.
    • Follow

  • Pinterest – delivers pictorial representations of articles, tutorials, and ideas. This is the fastest growing social network today, which is why I wanted to give it a nod. Valley Irrigation is currently not on Pinterest, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out! This is a great place to get ideas for your business and personal life, as well as find pictures of ag. Pinterest allows you to create boards that relate to a single topic. So, if you’re the type to organize your thoughts, this may be the place for you to hang out.

Social media offers you a place to engage with the humans behind brands – companies aren’t comprised of a bunch of robots (well, for the most part). Jump on a social network today to communicate with the people behind your favorite brands; make that network your one stop shop to be the first to learn about new products, technology, and promotions. And, you may be surprised just how fun it can truly be.

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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Stuck Pivots, Flats, Ruts….Help! | by John Kastl

I get a lot of questions from growers about what they can do minimize wheel ruts, or at least keep the machine from getting stuck. It’s a simple question, but the answer is complicated!

So, let’s consider some of the factors that affect wheel tracking. These include soil type, crop, how many hours you irrigate per year, amount of water per pass, and your level of tolerance for wheel tracks. Because of all these variables, Valley® offers a range of flotation solutions that cover nearly all situations, including everything from 14.9-24 and 11.2-38 Non-Directional and 18.4-26 Radial Tires, to 3-Wheel Basebeams, Track Drives, and Articulating Drives. There are also independent suppliers offering plastic wheels, steel wheels, you name it!

With all these options, how do you choose? Start by talking with your local Valley dealer, visit with your neighbors to learn what works in your area, and consider the following examples to determine what is best for your particular situation.

Let’s say you can live with deep wheel tacks, but don’t want your machine to get stuck and don’t want a wide wheel track that could damage your harvesting equipment. In that case, an 11.2-38 tire is an excellent option. It keeps the basebeam higher off the ground, giving you more rounds until the wheel track deepens. It also provides a few more inches of crop clearance.

Maybe you just need to reduce the wheel track depth, so you don’t get stuck later in the season. In this instance, the Valley-exclusive Champion Hydro ND tire from Firestone is a great option. Unlike regular tractor tires, the Champion Hydro ND tires have a non-directional tread that provides excellent traction and keeps the mud in the wheel track, minimizing rut depth throughout the season. In addition, these tires use a special rubber compound to delay dry rot, so they last longer in the field.
Champion Hydro ND tires

If you need some additional traction to power your way through a tough spot in the field, a Valley 3-Wheel Basebeam is a great solution. The third center tire provides additional traction when you need it. It’s compatible with all of Valley’s tires and can be used on Standard and High Profile drive units. If you’re not sure you’ll need it, order your machine with the basebeam-only option. Then, if you need it later in the season, it’s simple to add the third gearbox and tire.

If your corner steerable drive units have problems with deep ruts, Valley recommends the 18.4R26 Radial tire. This tire can be inflated to only 10 psi, giving it a very large footprint and a low, 11 psi ground pressure that really helps eliminate ruts.

Perhaps you have a really difficult field where you need maximum flotation and traction. In those situations, Valley suggests the Track Drive for most fields and the Articulating or Articulating Track Drive for rough ground (such as when you have to cross a ditch).

“OK, but I’m tired of fixing flat tires, what about those steel and plastic wheels?”

Valley started with steel wheels on the old water drive machines and understands the problems associated with hard wheels, especially the lack of “give.” We’re constantly evaluating various “airless tire” options, but to date we haven’t found a product that doesn’t cause deep wheel tracks or cause wheel gearboxes to fail. One grower told me he’d rather fix an occasional flat than break gearboxes or get the pivot unstuck every time it goes around.

Remember, the most important thing you can do to minimize ruts is to ensure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure. Too much pressure can cause deep ruts and shorten the life of the tire. Also, take a look at your tires at the end of the season, especially on machines that are 8 to 10 years old. If there are deep cracks in the tire and you can see the white fabric plies at the bottom, it’s time to consider replacement. It will pay off next year with fewer flats and problems with your machine. Likewise, proper maintenance of the wheel track in the off season and packing the track at the start of the season are important to minimizing problems throughout the year.

John Kastl
Product Manager - Equipment

John joined the Valley Irrigation Engineering Department in 2000 after having spent 11 years at General Electric Aircraft Engines. Today, he manages the equipment products for Valley (center pivots, corners, and gearbox, to name a few), helping develop the next generation of Valley Irrigation machines. John enjoys photography, home renovation, and travel. On his third birthday, John watched the first moon landing!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One Trade Show, 27 Buildings Full of Booths | by Michelle Stolte

Last month I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the Agritechnica Show in Hannover, Germany. While I have been to my fair share of trade shows, this was unlike any other show I have been to just in terms of its sheer magnitude. My first reaction was “Holy cow, this show is huge!” It boasted 27 buildings chock full of exhibitors – 27! It is estimated that this show brought in nearly 450,000 visitors from 88 countries over the seven days it was open.

This was the first year Valley had its own booth, which represented our company very well. We focused our attention on a demonstration of BaseStation3, our state-of-the-art remote management product that will be release in early 2014, and Valley Ag Solutions. Valley Ag Solutions helps growers from start to finish by not only providing irrigation equipment, but also delivering services from feasibility studies and crop consulting to engineered pump solutions and farm management software.

Interest in Valley and in irrigation in general was great, and we considered the show a great success. We met with many existing customers, as well as those new to irrigation. We also were able to see old friends from years past, which is always a nice bonus to attending trade shows.

If you have never attended Agritechnica and find yourself in Germany on November 10-14, 2015, find your way to the show. You will be amazed by the size and the number of exhibitors. If you can’t find what you are looking for here, I am not sure where you will be able to find it! If you have been to the show, or work the show every two years, I am sure you already know a really good foot masseuse!

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, December 9, 2013

Who Wants to Stop Checking Pivot Tires? | by Shannon Peterson

A farmers’ work is never done. Smart growers know the off-season is the time to find and fix problems, to prevent in-season shut downs. They also know it is cheaper to maintain equipment than it is to fix it after a breakdown.

One of the likely tasks on your off-season list is checking the tires on your center pivots. Of course, you’ll be checking those tires again before the planting season, and during the growing season, and again during the season, and again, and again.

Checking tires takes time you really don’t have, especially during the irrigation season. As a testament to that, most flat tires aren’t noticed until the irrigation equipment stops, ruining the tire, gearbox, and sometimes the rim. And a flat tire means repairs that can cost $1,000 to $1,500 and downtime during the peak irrigation season when water is critical to maximizing yields.

So, while you’re thinking about taxes, budgets, planning, and off-season improvements, think too about a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Recipient of a 2012 World Ag Expo Top-10 New Products award, Valley® TPMS alerts you when there is a low-pressure situation and pinpoints the exact location of the tire.

The technology is widely used in the automotive and over-the-road trucking industries. A sensor on the tire’s valve stem measures tire pressure and transmits the information to your Pro2 control panel. You can see the information at the pivot point or remotely on your BaseStation™.

Identifying a slow leak before you get a flat tire lets you schedule preemptive maintenance at a time and location that is convenient for you, rather than fixing a flat in the middle of your field.

Investing in TPMS means you won’t waste time manually checking tires, which not only increases your productivity, it frees up some time for you. Although I suspect you’ll find other work that needs to be done.

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for Home & Away magazine. Shannon also likes reading, trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. However, she and her husband spend most of their free time chauffeuring their teenage son to activities and chasing their baby daughter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy World Soil Day!

Originally published on Soils Matter, Get the Scoop.

In honor of World Soil Day, we are sharing a blog on the importance of soil and how it cleans our water.

Q: How can soils filter or purify water, such as for drinking water purposes? There are just so many chemicals and bacteria in the soil that you would expect the opposite.

A: If we put some soil in a glass column and pour "dirty" water through it, the water will come out cleaner than when it went in. The soil, in other words, is a reactor. It has the potential to clean up dirty water by a variety of methods. So how does soil do this?

There are three basic ways. The soil is a physical filter that removes particles suspended in water; it is a chemical reactor that removes dissolved chemicals from water; and it is a bioreactor that transforms and degrades chemicals by the action of soil microbes.

The soil is the largest filter on the planet. The size of the pores in soil (which is based on the amount of sand, silt, clay, and organic matter that make up the soil) determine how effective the soil is at filtering out particles. A finer textured soil (more clay) with many small pores is a better filter. Yet, a soil can be too fine with too many small pores, so that water does not efficiently flow through the soil. A perfect soil has a distribution of pores of different sizes that can both filter water and allow adequate movement of water through soil.

The soil is the largest chemical reactor on the planet. The soil has a net negative (-) charge that triggers the removal of positively (+) charged ions in the water which moves through the soil. These (+) ions are removed from the soil solution much like a magnet with a (-) charge attracts another magnet with a (+) charge. The figure to the right shows how ions like calcium, magnesium, and potassium are attracted and held on soil surfaces. Still other chemicals are removed by the soil by becoming part of the soil structure through a process called covalent bonding.

The soil is the largest bioreactor on the planet. Within the soil, bacteria and fungi transform and decompose chemicals. The nitrogen cycle is especially dependent on the soil reactor. Microbes change organic forms of nitrogen into the ion, ammonium. More microbes change ammonium to nitrate, and even more microbes change nitrate into nitrogen gas, which then enters the atmosphere. Similarly, if the soil "sees" an organic pollutant, microbes go to work transforming and decomposing it, so eventually it becomes carbon dioxide and water.

The net effect is that the soil provides a service to society. It cleans the water that makes its way to rivers and streams. It helps keep the water clean for us to use and for wildlife to survive. If we don’t take care of the "largest reactor on the planet" we may destroy the service it provides and hurt our environment in the process.

By Nick Comerford, a University of Florida soil scientist and Soil Science Society of America member.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tis the Season for Giving | by Jill Zwiener

The holiday season is upon us and that means shopping, baking, and gift giving. It's also the time of year when we think of the less fortunate. Maybe they are struggling to feed their young children, perhaps they are sick and are having difficulty paying bills, or maybe they are starting over because they lost everything they owned in a fire. At Valley® Irrigation, we believe in giving back year-round. 

The largest organization we support is the United Way. The United Way of America is a non-profit organization – with more than 1,200 local United Way offices throughout the country – that coordinates a coalition of charities pooling their efforts in fundraising and support. The issues United Way offices focus on are determined locally because of the diversity of the communities served. However, the main focus areas include education, income, and health.

In addition to employee pledges, Valley raises money for the United Way through a parking space auction, a silent auction, book fairs, selling opportunities to wear jeans or shorts, hosting a Fun Day with contests, and selling raffle tickets for prizes (such as football and concert tickets) throughout the year.

In addition to the United Way, Valley employees  also give to other programs such as Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Planet Water, and the American Lung Association.

You know, they say that what you give comes back to you tenfold. I am a firm believer of this. What’s your favorite way of giving back?

Jill Zwiener
Brand Manager

Jill joined the Valley Irrigation team in 2011. She loves country music, fountain soda, food, college football, and the ski slopes of Colorado. She enjoys using photography to freeze the precious bits of time with her family into pictures that she can cherish for years.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thank You | by Shannon Peterson and the Valley Team

Here in the United States, we’re preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. Here at Valley®, we’d like to share the tradition of expressing thanks. Here is what some of our regular bloggers are thankful for.

Brooke Stover:

I am thankful for Dr. Oz (he recently announced that cheese is actually good for weight loss).

I am thankful for the awesome people I get to work with every day (minus a few unsavory characters, you know who you are – KIDDING!). I’m really thankful for the fun work environment at Valley – it’s true that if you enjoy your job you’ll never work a day in your life. (There’s a warm fuzzy on a cold day.)

I am thankful that I can tell people that I feed the world for a living. (This makes me sound really “cool” when I introduce myself in social situations.)

Michelle Stolte:

I am thankful for all the growers around the world who work extremely hard to feed each and every one of us every day. Thank you!!

Kelly Downing:

I still remember the moment very clearly. It was at 8:30 p.m., local time, on Oct. 15. It was not yet the end of a very long day. My traveling companion, Antoine Quily (our western Africa sales representative), and I had already been driving, working, and driving for about 15 hours, and we had three hours left before we would get to our hotel. We were sharing a small pickup with four other men, three goats, and half a ton of rice. I was very tired, very sore, and extraordinarily grouchy. Passing the time by listening to my iPod (set to “random play all songs”), a song by one of my favorite artists, Paul Thorn, began playing. The song is “I’m a Lucky Man” from his “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand” album.

It only took a few seconds for this song to help me “get my mind right.” I have included the lyrics below. I encourage all of you to read them (even better, buy the song or album and listen) and think about your own situation. I know tough times come to all of us, but sometimes I just need a little slap to the back of my head, like this. As the saying goes, “Why have a pity party? Nobody else shows up, and there are no snacks.” Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’m a Lucky Man
In a dirty hotel room
Somewhere in rainy California
Channel surfing through the night
And there ain't nothing on
I went down to an empty bar
And I started talking to a stranger
He said "I come here every night
So I won't have to be alone"
I guess that I'm a lucky man
I guess that everything ain't all that bad
There's always somebody with less
I realize that I'm blessed
Now I understand, I'm a lucky man
Somewhere out there in the night
There must be a million people
They're just trying to survive
Barely holding on
I can't feel sorry for myself
When everything ain't goin' my way
'Cause I've got dreams and something else
I've got a reason to go on
I guess that I'm a lucky man
I guess that everything ain't all that bad
There's always somebody with less
I realize that I'm blessed
Now I understand, I'm a lucky man…

Jill Zwiener:

I’m thankful for the dedicated growers who rely on Valley equipment to water their valuable crops.

I’m thankful for the 500+ Valley dealers who put in countless hours each year to ensure our customers are happy.

I’m thankful for the engineers at Valley who design the most reliable center pivots in the industry!

I’m thankful for farmers. Without their hard work, resilience, determination, and dedication, I wouldn't enjoy the food I do every day of the year.

I’m thankful for the excitement and joyful smiles I saw on my nephews faces when they saw a combine harvesting a cornfield this fall.

I’m thankful for the stories my family members (my dad, uncles and aunts) have to tell about growing up on the farm years ago. They didn’t get to participate in sports like many other kids. They were milking the cows, raising livestock, and harvesting chickens. They were working hard to provide for their family.

Kelly Cox:

I am thankful for a lot in my life, but there are a few things I want to give homage to here and now. I am thankful for:

My wonderful husband, who is my very own superhero. He takes my antics in stride and really is the best person in the world for doing so. I couldn’t ask for more!

Garages, especially during the brink of a Nebraskan winter. ‘Nuff said.

The author Brandon Sanderson (and not just because he shares the same first name with my hubby). He finished The Wheel of Time series, a feat that no one else would have had the gall to take on! 14 books, most of which are about 1,000 pages long…good stuff.

* * *

And me? I’m thankful to my colleagues for sharing – it can be hard to be heartfelt on demand. I’m also thankful to have joined the Valley team in June. The people here are patient, accepting, and kind. And I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that I am eternally thankful for the best husband ever, the most amazing teenage son, my miracle baby girl, and a second chance in life.

I’ll be even more thankful if you tell us what you are thankful for!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Research Shows How Much Water VRI Can Save | by Travis Yeik

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, irrigation accounted for 62% of the total U.S. freshwater consumption in 2005. This water is used to irrigate approximately 17% of U.S. cropland acres; yet, these acres account for 55% of total U.S. crop sales, including animal forage and feed crops (USDA Economic Research Service). Thus, irrigation plays a major role in both food production and the U.S. economy.

Demand for freshwater supplies has rapidly increased over the past few decades, and the necessity for more efficient irrigation systems is becoming critically important. Half of irrigated croplands across the U.S. are irrigated with more efficient center pivot systems, yet it has become evident through variable rate technologies that there is still room to improve the water-use efficiency with these machines.

Variable rate irrigation (VRI) seeks to apply water site-specifically to the field, depending on soil water holding capacities, crop type, and topography. Water savings with use of VRI has been contrasted in past research, with very few actual field studies being conducted to demonstrate differences in seasonal water application between site-specific and uniform treatments.

This past growing season, Valley conducted a field study with a VRI machine in central Illinois. The purpose of the research was to evaluate traditional uniform water application vs. site-specific irrigation treatments. Four main goals of this research were to: 1) understand how several factors, including soil type and slope, affect the variation of recommended watering rates in irrigation prescriptions; 2) identify how often irrigation prescriptions need to be updated throughout the growing season; 3) analyze water use under uniform and site-specific irrigation treatments; and 4) evaluate yield differences under uniform and site-specific irrigation treatments.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss some of the study results obtained from water-use efficiency between uniform and VRI treatments in a corn crop.

In general, the field where this study was conducted had significantly varying soils, ranging from sand on the hills (with 0-5% clay and 90-95% sand) and loam in the lower lying areas (0-5% sand). Thus, the available water holding capacity between these soils in the 3-foot root zone ranged from 3.75 inches in the sand to 7.2 inches in the loam. Twelve plots (three plots in sand and three plots loam soils for both VRI and uniform irrigation treatments) were identified in the field, each being approximately 1.5 acres in size. Three soil moisture probes (at 6-, 18-, and 30-inch depths) were placed in each of the plots.

Water application in the uniform treatment plots were based on irrigation scheduling recommended by the farmer, which was typically twice a week throughout the growing season. Application amounts were based on a “checkbook” method, determined by the soil water holding capacity and daily evapotranspiration rates. Thus, once it was determined that 50% of available moisture was present in the sand (which reached this level much sooner than the loam), a uniform treatment of water was applied to both the sand and clay soils to bring the available moisture back up to 85% of field capacity (which left additional room for rainfall).

Scheduling under VRI was based on reports from the soil moisture sensors. For example, in the sandy soils, water was applied once the moisture level reached 50% of field capacity. However, in the loamy soils, 50% of field capacity was a considerable 3.6 inches, which was too much to put back on at one time to bring the soil back up to near field capacity. Thus, the loamy soils were typically watered on days when the sandy soils were irrigated, but at nearly 50%-80% of the application depth.

The irrigation treatments between uniform and VRI were conducted from late June until early September. Throughout this time, 24 pivot passes were made over the study area. At the end of the season, irrigation treatments between the sand under VRI and the clay/sand under uniform treatment had similar total water applications of 14.4 and 14.5 inches respectively. However, the loam soil under the VRI treatment remained above 50% field capacity throughout the growing season even as it received a total of 8.9 inches.

Therefore, if this entire field were managed under VRI, there would be an estimated 31% reduction in water use. Although this study was conducted with two contrastingly different soils, it demonstrates how water saving can be achieved using variable rate irrigation.

Travis Yeik
Variable Rate Irrigation Agronomist

Travis joined Valley Irrigation in February 2013 after completing his graduate degree at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. His work focuses on writing prescriptions for the Valley VRI products. As a native of Wyoming, Travis enjoys outdoor activities, including fly fishing and hiking. He also enjoys sports and is looking forward to baseball season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Irrigating to Conserve the World's Water | by Brooke Stover

We all know that the world’s water resources are being depleted. While 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered in water, only .05 percent of it is accessible freshwater that we can use (much of the remaining fresh water is frozen in icecaps or is inaccessible groundwater). Of that .05 percent of freshwater, 70 percent is used for agricultural withdrawals. (This information is illustrated in the image below.)

This means that 70 percent of the water is currently being used to feed our ever-increasing population. The global population increases by 8,000 people every hour. Without irrigation, growers would be unable to produce higher yields on fewer acres, so it is important that we invest in ways to feed the growing population without completely depleting the world’s water resources.

How can we do this? We can invest in more efficient means of irrigation practices. Yields can be increased while using less water, the water just needs to be applied more effectively. Center pivot irrigation can reach efficiencies of 98 percent, while traditional flood irrigation is only about 40-50 percent efficient.

To see how center pivot irrigation matches up to less efficient methods of irrigation, visit this Website.

At Valley®, our goals are to improve irrigation practices throughout the world and to help feed the growing population while developing new and improved technologies that apply water more efficiently.

Brooke Stover
Global Marketing Coordinator

Brooke has been with the Valley Irrigation Global Marketing department since 2011. She spends her free time taking pottery classes; though she thoroughly enjoys this, most of her stuff is a bit lopsided. Brooke also loves to read and listen to Frank Sinatra. She enjoys traveling and has been to 11 countries with the goal to make it to six more in the next six years!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everything is Big in Texas, Including the Irrigation Show | by Jerry Gerdes

When attending the Irrigation Association Irrigation Show & Education Conference, I always look forward to seeing friends and colleagues and catching up with what is going on in their lives, and also talking some business. This year’s meeting held special meaning for me.
Photo courtesy of Paige Electric

Last summer, I was nominated for an open position on the Irrigation Association Certification Board and in August received word that I had been selected to join the board after the 2013 meeting. I’m honored to represent the agricultural irrigation industry as a member of the board.

At last week’s meeting, I had the opportunity to meet the current board members and sit in on the board meetings. Everyone made me feel very welcome. I look forward to continuing the great work that has been done since the Certification Board was created 30 years ago.

The I.A. Certification Program allows people within the irrigation industry to demonstrate their knowledge by passing examinations and becoming certified in specific areas of irrigation. If you are interested in knowing more about the Certification Program, visit the I.A. website and click on certification.

The Valley® display booth saw very good traffic throughout the show. Attendees from all around the world stopped to visit with us about the Valley center pivot and linear product lines. The show is also an excellent opportunity for me to find out what’s new in irrigation.

Texas State Capital Building
This year’s show was held in downtown Austin, TX, where the weather was quite comfortable compared to Nebraska in November.

This was my first visit to Austin, so I set aside a few hours to explore the downtown area. There are many restaurants to choose from, and I highly recommend the Vince Young Steakhouse on Second Street and Eddy V’s Prime Seafood on Fifth Street.

The Texas State Capital is in the downtown area and was one of the highlights of my visit to Austin. Like most things in Texas, it is very big!

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, November 11, 2013

Some Dealerships Talk About Service, Valley Dealers Live It | by Shannon Peterson

Our Valley® dealers are legendary for their service. Often, growers and dealers work together so closely and so well that they become friends, rather than just business associates.

Grower Alex Hawman of Hermiston, OR, recently told a member of the Valley Irrigation marketing team that his dealer is amazing.

“They always answer their phones,” Hawman said. “{And they are] always there. If we have questions, they always come up with an answer. And they’re very easy to work with. Like a friend. They are friends.”

Those kind of testimonials led us to create the “Props to Your Dealer” contest. Although the contest is winding down, there is still time for you to tell us about your Valley dealer.

Check out some of the props we received so far:

My dealer “is the best Valley dealer in South Dakota!!!!!!! Due to his service and on time work."

"I remember chatting last year with [several dealers] and they were such interesting, passionate professionals. I also recall the genuine rapport and respect that [Valley] customers had for their dealers."

Find out which dealers these customers are bragging about and read more #ValleyProps in the Props Gallery

Then tell us who your Valley dealer is and why he is the best. 

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for Home & Away magazine. Shannon also likes reading, trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. However, she and her husband spend most of their free time chauffeuring their teenage son to activities and chasing their baby daughter.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Phase Power: The First Choice for Irrigation Energy if it is Available | by Dr. Lyndon Kelley

Electric power is the least expensive source of energy for irrigation, when it is readily available. A comparison of several energy sources discussed in “Comparable Costs of Various Energy Sources for Irrigation Pumping” by Purdue University finds that to match the common electric rate of 10.4 cents per kilowatt hour, you would need to be able to buy diesel fuel for $1.31 per gallon.

Electric power provides many advantages for irrigation. Liquid fuel storage located near wells and surface water pose potential environmental risks that electric use avoids. Electric driven pumping plants are easier to control remotely, a bonus for the tech savvy irrigation manager. The higher initial investment in pumping equipment and higher annual maintenance cost of combustion engines pushes more irrigation toward the use of electric power. The question for most irrigators is, “how much will it cost to bring electric service to the irrigation system?” The answer depends on your location, service provider, and what is currently available for electric power.

Almost all farms have single phase electric power available. Electrical motors and controls for field-scale irrigation systems are designed for three phase power. Farm-supplied electric phase converters or variable frequency drives systems can be used to create three phase electric power from a single phase line, but will often be limited to small motors to reduce brownout problems on the service line. To further reduce brownout problems, electrical service providers may also require farms to buy and maintain soft start pump motors or variable frequency drives systems to reduce the start-up load of the larger horsepower pump motors.

Having three phase electric power provided at the location of the pump by your electric service provider is the simplest and safest energy source. It requires the least amount of farm owned/maintained equipment to run irrigation systems. Electric service providers can often generate a cost estimate for adding three phase electric power service to you location. In some situations, estimates may be free with a commitment to use a quantity of power in the future. More likely, a simple line drop from a new set of transformers on an existing three phase line maybe $500 to $2,000. If three phase power is not near the location, costs to install the service are estimated to be between $10,000 and $30,000 a mile. These costs are to be paid by the potential irrigator to upgrade service in the area.

Irrigators will often calculate the savings in initial equipment and annual maintenance and energy costs for electric power versus combustion engine over a five to 10-year period. The 10-year savings on a typical 160-acre irrigated field may be in the $25,000 range or higher, which could be applied to improving the electric power infrastructure in the neighborhood. Some power companies have programs to reimburse a portion of the cost for the original investor if other users hook on to the new three phase line in the next few years.

With the fast pace of growth of irrigation and other agricultural-related expansions, the demand for three phase electrical power in intensive agricultural areas is high. 

This piece was written for and published by Michigan State University Extension News

Dr. Lyndon Kelley
Michigan State University Extension and Purdue Extension

Lyndon is a guest writer for the Growing the Conversation blog by Valley. He has been an irrigation educator for MSU and Purdue Extension for the past three years, working in the areas of irrigation management and water policy. Lyndon is a 23 year member of MSU extension staff.  Based in St. Joseph County, MI., his workshops, presentations, and publications focus on irrigation scheduling, costs, system uniformity, and water rights rules.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Valley Values – Reliability | by Matt Ondrejko

Reliability is a term/feature that gets thrown around a lot by companies nowadays when they talk about how much better their products are than other brands. In fact, it has become a word that many consumers have grown weary of. However, there are people in certain industries and lines of work that require Reliability as assurance that they are getting the best proven product and that they have one less thing to worry about on the job.

In my seven months here at Valley®, I have heard the word Reliability come out of the mouth of every grower and dealer I have met when they tell me why they chose a Valley product for their operation.  

Reliability is not a label that can just be slapped on a product, it has to be earned. Reliability is something gained by days and years in the field, performing at the same high level every time. Reliability is something that maximizes your up-time and provides that sense of security that you don’t need to worry if it will work when you press the ON button. Reliability is something that the people of Valley take very seriously, because our growers and dealers do. It is our reputation and our legacy that drives the reliability we have all come to expect from a Valley product.

Valley Reliability is not something I have created, or that the current staff here has created, but we continue to deliver it with every new product we bring to market. The Reliability expectation we have achieved has been developed and delivered on with every passing year. Reliability is a value we will continue to deliver on tomorrow and well into the future.  

This is our commitment to you.

Click below to learn more about the Reliability of Valley products.

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, October 31, 2013

Celebrating Halloween, Valley Style | by Shannon Peterson

The Valley® marketing team is divided. Half of us LOVE Halloween, the other half, “meh, take it or leave it.” 

So, the Halloween enthusiasts decided to pump a little spirit into Valley Irrigation with a pumpkin-carving contest. The contest asked employees to send in a photo of their carved or decorated pumpkin or local produce. (Local produce? You’re wondering, ‘What on earth?’ We wanted to open the contest up to our international colleagues who may not celebrate Halloween. Truth be told, we didn’t get a lot of decorated produce entries.) There were three categories: most creative, scariest, and Valley-themed.

After we launched our contest, I noticed several similar competitions on Twitter, including the National FFA and the University of Minnesota. Maybe next year we’ll open the contest up to our dealers and customers. I just know that someone out there possesses the artistic skills to carve a pivot on a pumpkin.

This year, we didn’t get nearly the volume of entries we anticipated. But that’s OK because some of the submissions we did get are pretty amazing.

Here are some of the Valley-themed entries. Enjoy! 

Visit our Facebook page to see the creative and scary pumpkins.

Meanwhile, for those who were wondering, the USDA reported that there were plenty of pumpkins available for carvers this year, although crop conditions varied by region. “Wet spring weather, followed by a hot dry summer, had a negative impact on pumpkin volume in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Conditions in the Midwest and Western United States were much more favorable, and growers are reporting good quality and good size for their pumpkins.” (Thanks to the USDA Economic Research Service for the pumpkin report quoted here).

Have a safe and happy Halloween.

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for Home & Away magazine. Shannon also likes reading, trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. However, she and her husband spend most of their free time chauffeuring their teenage son to activities and chasing their baby daughter.

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Time to Evaluate Your Sprinkler Package | by Jerry Gerdes

Plugged sprinkler
For most farmers, the irrigation season has ended and harvest is in full swing. Farmers are working hard to get their crops in the bin. For center pivot irrigators, a well-maintained sprinkler package will ensure maximum crop yields and full bins after harvest.

Like all farm equipment, sprinkler packages need to be inspected each year to maintain performance.  It’s best to do the inspection after harvest or in the spring before planting the next crop. There are several key steps that should be performed.
  1. Obtain the sprinkler package report containing the location of the sprinklers and pressure regulators on the center pivot.
  2. Using the sprinkler package report, verify that each sprinkler location on the pivot matches the location in the report and contains the correct sprinkler, pressure regulator, and drop components.
  3. Replace broken or missing sprinkler package components with the correct items per the sprinkler package report.
  4. Once the sprinkler package components are verified as correct, pressurize the machine with water. Verify that the pressure gauge at the pivot point matches the sprinkler package design pivot pressure.
  5. Plugged pressure regulator
  6. Visually inspect all sprinklers for consistent and uniform water pattern performance.  Disassemble sprinklers with poor water patterns and check for plugging and defective sprinkler components.
Often I’m asked how long will sprinklers last.  The life of sprinkler components will depend on the quality of the irrigation water.  Irrigation water with gritty or abrasive material will shorten the life of sprinklers compared to clean irrigation water.  A general rule is that 10,000 hours of operation is the point where a sprinkler package performance could begin to degrade and reduce crop yields.

Uniform water pattern

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.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Striving to Help Africa’s Small Farmers | by Shannon Peterson

It’s hard to deny that the effects of center pivot irrigation have been revolutionary. Nowhere is that more visible than in the United States where widespread conversion to center pivot irrigation has transformed agriculture and the landscape.  By using mechanized irrigation equipment, U.S. growers increased their revenue and their crop yields. Farmers grow more food with less water while being released from the drudgery of conventional irrigation methods and putting their labor to better use.

On a global scale, aggressive investments in irrigation, hybrid seeds, and fertilizer during the past 50 years have brought famine and poverty under control in Latin America, China, and South Asia. Yet most of Sub-Saharan Africa has made little progress during this same time period.  Limited investment in technology and infrastructure resulted in limited commercial farming in the region. 

Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90 percent of the farmers are subsistence farmers. They spend half their annual incomes on food, leaving little money for education, health, and housing needs. (In contrast, only 6 percent of U.S. annual household income is spent on food). 

An exception is South Africa where Valley® introduced center pivots in the 1970s. In South Africa, pivots are used primarily by medium and large commercial farmers, who have experienced tremendous success. The same drivers of this success can serve as a model for small growers, and Valley Irrigation is working to develop a model of shared pivots for smallholder farmers.

Many African smallholder farmers remain poor because they depend on unreliable rainfall, making them vulnerable to drought and climate change. Although these disadvantages could be completely eliminated by irrigation, center pivots are often cited as too expensive for Africa’s farmers. 

However, if small farmers share a center pivot, the cost drops dramatically. Figures 1 and 2 demonstrate the dramatic reduction in cost of a center pivot once the radius of the field exceeds 300 meters.
Figure 1

Figure 2
An association of smallholder farmers, or a large commercial producer serving as an irrigation and crop marketing provider, can own and operate the center pivot in cooperation with the smallholder farmers. This approach puts precise, efficient irrigation technology into the hands of small farmers, and the impact on farm production is dramatic because water is available where and when the crop requires it.  

Widespread use of this model could turn subsistence farmers into profitable commercial farmers by increasing yield and empowering farm workers. That's Valley, leading the way and feeding the world! 

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for Home & Away magazine. Shannon also likes reading, trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. However, she and her husband spend most of their free time chauffeuring their teenage son to activities and chasing their baby daughter.