Monday, January 7, 2013

Sitting in the Control Seat

Originally published in Winter 2012 edition of PivotPoint.

For decades, it was a well-known fact that growers couldn't get away during the growing season.  Weekends off and family vacations were simply not an option.  For many growers, that's still the case.  But for those who use Valley TrackNET™ products, life is quite different that it use to be.

The TrackNET family of web-based irrigation management products provides growers the ability to manage their center pivots and linear systems remotely.  Through a computer, laptop, tablet, or even a smart phone, growers can monitor, manage and control their irrigation systems.

According to Valley Irrigation Controls Product Manager John Rasmus, TrackNET is the only management system available in multiple languages - English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.

"It's also the only one on the market that allows growers to upload Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) prescriptions," says Rasmus.  "That information allows growers to apply water much more precisely.  There's no guesswork involved."

Bill Walker grows cotton, corn and soybeans on his five-thousand acre family farm about 40 miles east of Memphis, Tennessee.  He's used his TrackerSP since he started irrigating with seven Valley systems in 2008.

"The first thing I do when I get in the morning is go to my office and see if anything needs my attention," says Walker.  "If there are any issues, I can usually go out and take care of it myself.  Unlike some of my neighbors, I don't have to spend an entire afternoon driving around and looking at each individual machine to see what's going on, because it's right there on my screen."

Justin Miller, Division Manager of Tennessee Tractor in Jackson, Tennessee, agrees with Walker's assessment.  "Bill's Trackers work perfectly with his Valley Pivots, controlling every function.  It's almost like being out in the field at the control panel, only he doesn't have to drive to each one."

TrackNET products can monitor and manage any brand of center pivot or linear, and control everything from turning machines on and off, to programming application rates, to monitoring chemigation and even viewing historical information and weather reports.


"When it's storming at night and my machines are running, I can shut them down from bed.  I just have to roll over and grab my phone," says Walker.  "It's great because it gives me the tools I need for maximizing efficiency, plus I get the extra benefit of not having to out and shut each one down at the site."

Walker's TrackNET also allows him to get away - even during the busy times.  "For example, I was sitting on the beach and saw that one of my systems had an issue.  All I had to do was make a call, and I got it fixed.  That's pretty amazing."

Chuck Messersmith of Western Valley Irrigation in Alliance, Nebraska, says they're currently installing 30-plus new TrackNET systems on customer Craig Maas's farm.

"Craig saw that the new TrackNET products had evolved enough that he wanted to add Tracker products to all of his control panels.  He's a very progressive farmer who travels a lot, so he'll really benefit from the control he'll gain with his new Trackers.  He can manage his pivots from anywhere in the world - literally."

TrackNET products don't just provide freedom and peace of mind.  They also provide savings.  By programming machines to run during off-peak times, growers can get a break on electric rates.  It takes fewer man hours when each system doesn't have to be checked in person.  Of course, TrackNET allows growers to control the amount of water used or applied by each machine, as well.

Walker says, "My experience with Valley and TrackNET products has only been good.  I've saved time and money, and the customer service has been very fast."

"You can't put a dollar amount on having peace of mind while spending time with family," explains Walker.  "Until you have a Tracker, you don't realize what a difference it makes."