Thursday, May 30, 2013

Checking Your End Tower Pressure | by Brooke Stover

There are simple things that we sometimes forget about as we run out the door for work: tying your shoes (ouch), brushing your hair (yikes), or making sure your socks match (embarrassing – maybe I’m the only one who sometimes misses that step), but from these we can gather that sometimes the simplest things can make a big difference. This lesson holds true, not only in a panicked rush to work in the morning, but when it comes to running your operation.

In my research, talking to our water application engineer, I have found one of those simple things and would like to share it with you: check your end tower pressure on your center pivot!

I say that with an exclamation point because it really is easy to do and can, apparently, have a big impact. What kind of impact, you might ask? Well, did you know your sprinklers with pressure regulators require a minimum pressure to operate correctly? If the wrong pressure is being used by your machine, then your crops aren’t getting the water they need. Also, 50% of the acres in your field are irrigated by sprinklers on the outer 30% of your center pivot. If your end pressure is below the minimum design pressure, then you will experience under watering, which can reduce yields. To help put a stop to yield loss, we have put together simple steps to check your end tower pressure.

Install a pressure gauge at the end of your machine on the last drop between the pressure regulator and drop pipe or hose.
Tip: If your machine is on hilly terrain, you will want to install two pressure gauges: one at the end of your machine and the other at the intermediate span at the highest point in your field. 

No pressure gauge? No problem! Contact your local Valley dealer, he can provide you with several pressure gauge options that you can easily install!

Turn on your machine. 
(You may want to put on a raincoat between step 1 and step 2!)

Walk to where the pressure gauge is installed and read the PSI (pressure reading).
Tip: As a general rule of thumb, your pressure gauge should read at least 5 pounds higher than the PSI listed on your pressure regulator. So, if the PSI on your pressure regulator is 15 PSI, then your pressure gauge should read a minimum of 20 PSI. 

If you want to know EXACTLY what your pressure should be, then contact your local Valley dealer for a copy of your sprinkler design. The optimum pressure will be listed on the design.

So today (or tomorrow), tie your shoes, comb your hair, match your socks (or don’t - let’s start a trend!), and check your end tower pressure!

For more information on maintenance tips for your center pivot or linear, visit! Have a question or comment? Please leave it in the Comments box below!

Brooke Stover
Global Marketing Assistant

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!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Farming is in the Trail Blood

Originally published in Spring 2013 edition of PivotPoint.

Today, the two men and their wives work together very closely. Eventually, Rocky and Terrie plan to step back, taking more time off and traveling. For now, though, it is truly a family affair, as Rocky teaches Rusty all the nuances of farming the land, even as Rusty uses technology to get more out of that land with precision planning. meanwhile, Terrie and Jennifer work together on the books.

“We’ll be sitting around the dinner table at night with the kids, talking business,” says Rocky. “We make all of our decisions jointly. With us, it’s all family – all business.”

Working together to save money

Farming 2,200 acres in the hills and valleys of Idaho presents some challenges, one of which is how to irrigate their sugar beets, alfalfa, and winter wheat. They have always irrigated their land, mostly with hand lines, which requires a lot of labor.

Rocky explains, “The whole goal is to save on labor, and while pivots aren’t totally labor-free, they’re much better than hand line irrigation. It takes 10 guys to work with hand lines, but only three to work with pivots.”

The Trails decided to start the switch to pivot irrigation about 13 years ago. Valley dealer JTS Farm Store is about five miles away from Trail Farms and the Trails knew the owners, Jim and Lea Ann Schraeder, so it made sense to work with them.

Lea Ann Schraeder says, “Rock and Rusty are just great guys to work with. They’re very business-oriented, so they require a quality product and good service. Just because we’re close by doesn’t mean we’d keep their business if we didn’t come through for them.” Including two soon-to-be-delivered new pivots, the Trails have nine Valley pivots, covering nearly half of their land.

“Fifteen years ago, some of our land wasn’t considered suitable for pivots at all,” explains Rocky, “but by adapting to different water sources, we installed pivots on that land, and it’s working well. Using sprinklers on beets while they’re germinating is so much better,” Rocky says. “Pivots are very flexible for that, and hand lines really aren’t.”

”We were one of the first operations to use a reverse swing arm, which moves counter clockwise,” says Rusty.

The Trails keep up with technology when it makes sense. For example, they use auto-steer on their implements and they have Trackers on their irrigation systems, with all alerts going to Rusty’s smart phone. They’re also looking into purchasing a Valley BaseStation2-SM.

Will there be a fourth generation Trail farmer?

Rusty’s son Parker goes out on the tractors with them every year and loves it. “He says he wants to be a farmer, too,” says Rusty with a smile. “Of course, he’s eight, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Quickstart Intelligence: Custom-built Precision Irrigation from the Start

Originally published in Spring 2013 edition of PivotPoint.

Valley® now has a way to take the learning curve out of the equation with VRI QuickStart. QuickStart is a prescription for Speed Control, custom-developed specifically for the field the machine is irrigating. It’s uploaded into the control panel before installation on new machines, or it can be uploaded to any existing VRI control panels and TrackNET™ products.

“Basically, growers can hit the ground running with the QuickStart Prescription,” says VRI Product Manager Cole Fredrick.

  1. A Valley dealer works with the grower to determine the ideal water application across the irrigated land.
  2. Based on this information, the Valley VRI Team develops the prescription and uploads it into a new control panel before it’s shipped for installation. If it’s an existing panel, they can upload the prescription either via direct upload or TrackNET.
  3. The grower can start using VRI right away.
“We’ll load the prescription directly into the control panel, so there’s no lag time between when the control panel is installed and when the VRI is functional. We can also develop prescriptions for TrackNET products and load them wirelessly over the internet,” continues Fredrick.

From the start, growers can take full advantage of VRI technologies.


VRI Speed Control
VRI QuickStart makes VRI Speed Control available the instant the prescription is uploaded. 
Speed Control allows growers to:
  • Speed up or slow down the pivot in two-degree increments to achieve the right application depth for varying field properties and conditions
  • Use a new or existing sprinkler package
  • Use with TrackerLT or TrackerPro
  • Use the Pro2 or Select2 control panel
VRI Zone Control
Zone Control allows growers to:
  • Pulse control valves on/off along any individual management zone to achieve the right application depth for varying field conditions and properties.
  • Use on/off control for specific areas in the field that may not need water, like ditches, canals, or wet areas
  • Use a new or existing sprinkler package
  • Easy plug-and-play capability
“We have had discussions about what would make getting the benefits of VRI to growers more quickly and in an even simpler way,” explains Fredrick. “That’s where VRI QuickStart began. It’s a Valley exclusive and we think it’s going to be very beneficial for the grower.”

For more information on Valley VRI, visit  

Have a question or comment? Post below in the Comments box!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Need More Irrigated Acres? You Can Irrigate More Land to Increase Yields!

Originally published in Spring 2013 edition of PivotPoint.

The value of farmland in the Corn Belt rose 13 percent for the year ending October 1, 2012, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago survey1, as commodity prices rose to record and near-record highs. This environment makes it more important than ever to make the most of cropland to get the highest possible yield. Valley® continues to respond to this need with products to help growers accomplish just that.

"We recently did a study and found that growers can increase their profits by at least $600 per acre on corn in Nebraska, just by irrigating more of the land they already have,” says John Kastl, Valley Product Manager. “That’s why we offer Bender, DropSpan™, and corner products.”


For a low investment, growers can gain up to six acres in each direction. The Bender30 can be placed on any drive unit, providing the ability to bend around trees, feed lots, roads, wells, or other obstacles. If the Bender30 adds just 3.5 irrigated acres, it will pay for itself in one year.
  • Available with PolySpan®, for use with corrosive water
  • Bends up to 30 degrees in either or both directions
  • Uses existing structural components, so it’s easy to retrofit with no structural change required
  • Completely automatic, no operator input required


As the name indicates, the Bender160 can bend your machine up to 160 degrees, allowing irrigation around large obstacles, like houses, grain bins and barns. Exclusive to Valley, the Bender towerbox controls the end guns and allows the machine to always know the bending angle. It takes only an additional nine irrigated acres for a one-year payback – and the Bender160 can irrigate up to 32 additional acres.
  • Bends up to 160 degrees in either or both directions, in forward and reverse
  • Uses custom structural components
  • Provides integrated end gun and auxiliary controls for bending mode

Valley Corner

The Valley Corner is the original corner machine, introduced in 1974. It is the simpler, more mechanical corner, efficiently and economically irrigating the corners of square, rectangular, or odd-shaped fields.
  • Low-profile track and roller joint connects the corner arm to the machine
  • Field-proven, rugged structure handles tough field conditions
  • Sprinkler sequencing is based on corner angle and is controlled with a simple cam stack and microswitches
  • Available with GPS Guidance

Valley Precision Corner®

The Valley Precision Corner is the leading corner in the industry. It has variable drives for smooth operation, more accurate water application, and efficient use of electricity.
  • Water transfer connection and hose eliminates pressure losses from multiple 90 degree bends
  • Industry leading 8000 series span and wide drive unit wheelbase for the toughest field conditions
  • Available with GPS Guidance
  • Angle sensor and computerized sequencing assures water uniformity


With DropSpan, growers can drop the outer spans, so the rest of the machine can irrigate acres behind barriers. At the edges of the field, DropSpan allows growers to drop as many spans as necessary, and then reattach them as the machine returns.
  • One person can attach or drop spans in only 15 minutes – with no tools!
  • Winch and support leg system is used to easily drop and reattach outer spans
  • Simple electrical connector manages span cable and control logic, so no rewiring is necessary
  • Optional end gun can be mounted at the DropSpan drive unit

For more information on the Valley Bender30, Bender160, Valley Corner, Precision Corner, and DropSpan options, visit Or, if you have questions or comments, please use the Comments box below!

1 What happens next to farmland prices? Randall Hertz, president, Hertz Real Estate Services, January 10, 2013,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Positioned to Succeed: How GPS Changed Farming as We Knew It

Originally published in Spring 2013 edition of PivotPoint.

GPS Position on Center Pivot
From tractors and combines to irrigation systems, growers are using GPS to make the most of their land and make their jobs easier and less stressful. Today, precision farming is becoming the norm.

"With precision farming, growers are optimizing row spacing, accurately applying fertilizers, crop protection products and water, and being more productive with the land available to them," says Valley Product Manager Scott Mauseth. "Farming is really evolving."

Global positioning history began on the farm in the form of auto-steer tractors, which became available in the late 1990s with the growth of the GPS network. Auto-steer provides greater accuracy for strip-till and other precise techniques. Its use helps to alleviate exhaustion of the operator, allowing better monitoring of all the equipment involved for the task at hand.

GPS helps growers make the most of their biggest asset - land

GPS makes Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) possible. VRI technology gives farmers a more precise way to apply water and other crop inputs. With tools like soil maps and yield maps, growers can prescribe where the water should be applied to maximize production and make the most efficient use of the water resources being applied.

GPS Guidance Panel

"GPS has also opened the potential to use corners and linear machines without burying wire," says Mauseth.

Global Positioning Systems allow us to get driving directions, keep track of our kids and pets, and even figure out the best fishing spots. But one of the most important and profitable ways GPS has changed the world is through farming.

By choosing the GPS Guidance option, growers can make changes in their corner path with less expense and in significantly less time. Wire placed under structures or in planted fields is no longer an issue, and growers won’t waste precious time when the wires need repair or the path of the corner needs to be changed.

Mauseth explains that since GPS was already being used in nearly every new implement on the farm, it just made sense to incorporate it into irrigation. “Valley introduced GPS Ready control panels in September of 2008 and GPS Guidance for corners and linears in 2009.”

Pat Tolman, General Manager of Valmont Northwest, a dealership located in Pasco, Washington, says, “We have growers implementing GPS Positioning tools daily. It’s a relatively small cost to install on a new or current center pivot. It’s an easy upgrade that can result in a huge payback.”

Using the same GPS base that farmers are already using for their implements makes things pretty simple. Tolman explains, “Many growers already have a base, or they’re renting space from their local dealership. It’s very easy to find a base to use."
GPS Guidance on Valley Precision Corner®

GPS Offerings from Valley

Valley utilizes two GPS choices available to growers. GPS Position with GPS Ready-Control panels utilize the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) to pinpoint the position of your machine accurately. WAAS uses a network of ground-based reference stations throughout North America to measure and correct for small variations in the GPS satellites’ signals. Add-on GPS positioning packages are available for pivots and linears and require a GPS Ready control panel, like Pro2, Select2, or AutoPilot. The GPS position calculations are performed right in the control panel, a unique design feature in Valley control panels, so there is no need for an external processor.

GPS Guidance for Valley linears and corners is another Valley innovation. Growers can steer their corner or linear machines through the field utilizing GPS as the choice versus buried wire guidance. GPS Guidance allows growers to make the most of their GPS technology investment with compatibility to existing John Deere® Starfire™ or Trimble®. Navigation with these systems relies on Real Time Kinematic (RTK network) satellite navigation. RTK uses a single receiver as a base and rebroadcasts information to mobile units on the linear or corner machines. The base receiver uses measurements of the signal phases derived from the GPS satellites to gain greater accuracy.

GPS technology for center pivots, corners, and linear machines can bring a number of benefits to an operation. Growers will experience enhanced management capabilities and can take advantage of precision application techniques for water, fertilizer and crop inputs. This can lower input costs and ultimately can lead to higher yield potential – and greater profits.

Exactly how does GPS work, anyway?

The basic idea behind global positioning is triangulation, using a group of satellites to act as reference points in space. Calculations based on the known distance of the satellites above the earth and the time it takes for the signal to reach a receiver on or near the surface of the earth allow the system to accurately record the receiver’s location.

For more information on Valley GPS, contact your local Valley dealer, or post your comment below!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

April Showers Bring May Flowers? | by Dustin Wilcox

Following the 2012 drought, which gripped much of the heart of the United States and left many crops and water supplies severely strained, there has been much attention and discussion directed towards weather conditions leading into the 2013 cropping season. As weather has begun to impact the planting season, we’re seeing it capturing headlines again. 

Following what was a cold, but overall typical winter for Valley, NE, and for many across the corn belt, Mother Nature has decided to spite that pesky groundhog, and provide us weather contrary to his early spring forecast; it now seems like an eternity since "Punxsutawney Phil" said spring was just 6 weeks away! Last year, spring-like weather had arrived by late February in Nebraska, and in much of the corn belt, with March 2012 averaging about 15 degrees above normal for the month in Eastern Nebraska, which helped set the stage for early corn planting, with a lot of corn being planted in the Valley area as early as the first week in April; much earlier than typically seen. 

While few expected a repeat of the 2012 rendition of February showers bringing March flowers, this year has proved to provide exactly the opposite: March saw temps average substantially below normal and April definitely followed suit, with the weather leaving soil temperatures, and the subsequent signs of spring, substantially delayed. According to USDA reports (, last year at this time, nearly half of the corn crop had been planted, while this year, weather conditions have allowed for only 5% of this year’s corn crop to be planted. Given the forecast here in Valley was calling for snow last week (only second time in recorded history of snowfall in May), and the forecast for most of the corn belt remains cool and wet this week, it appears the corn crop will only be further behind. 

While the merchants and growers who race to have that first batch of fresh, local sweet corn available at farmers markets haven’t appreciated this spring postponement, this cooler weather, as a previous blog post on drought indicated, has at least played in the favor of short-term drought relief for many. Cool weather initially allowed for slow thawing and minimal runoff of what snowpack existed, and parts of the plains have experienced several rounds of light, but persistent, soaking rains, and through the eastern corn belt, the weather pattern favored adequate winter moisture followed by more recent heavy rains that have served to eradicate the drought conditions entirely; in fact, some areas of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois have even had to battle record-breaking flooding. While areas of extreme and exceptional drought still exist across the plains, the overall trend of the past couple months has been for a gradual decrease in the coverage and intensity of the drought. 

That being said, with last year’s drought still fresh in all of our minds, there have been very few people in this part of the country not excited to see the April showers, though as planters continue to sit idle in sheds, sheltered from the late spring snow, anxious farmers are growing more and more antsy. Although delighted with the April showers we’ve had, most all of us are ready for more seasonable temperatures and the May flowers that are certainly soon to come; while we look forward to a favorable window for getting the 2013 crops in the ground, we’re hopeful for a sustained pattern of drought relief leading into a prosperous summer growing season!

Dustin Wilcox
Applications Specialist

Dustin, an Eastern Nebraska native, joined Valley Irrigation in 2011. Today, he works in the Irrigation Applications department, providing product support to Valley dealers. 
Dustin most enjoys working with and implementing new irrigation technologies that strive to improve on-farm efficiencies, achieving conservation goals while subsequently improving farm profits. 
In his spare time, you can find Dustin watching the weather and wandering the plains, where he logs over 10,000 miles every spring in his storm chasing vehicle. To date, he has filmed and documented well over 100 tornadoes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Valley Irrigation Around the World | by John Kastl

I recently returned from a product tour of New Zealand and Australia. It was great to get out of the office and experience this region of the world, but, I must say, it's great to be back!

It was very dry in both New Zealand and Australia - there really are some great opportunities for supplemental center pivot and linear irrigation in this area of the world. It's so dry in New Zealand that water restrictions have been implemented in some areas on the south island. The drought is also not good for irrigation water sources, as a great deal of it is dependent on rainfall that the country hasn't seen a lot of recently. Christchurch is still recovering from the severe earthquake they experienced in 2011. In a couple of spots, we saw where the road had shifted sideways by almost 8 feet. The road that once was straight now has a couple of curves!
Cows under center pivot

But, on to happier topics! I learned quite a bit about irrigation in New Zealand and Australia, as well as how center pivot and linear irrigation is used today. In New Zealand, center pivots are used to irrigate pasture for dairies. The cows really love standing under the sprinklers on hot days (pictured at right). There is also some cropping, but mostly for silage to feed the cows. 

Australia does have a few dairies like New Zealand, but they mostly irrigate crops, such as cotton, rapeseed, sorghum, corn, sunflowers, and sugarcane.

We paid a visit to our dealers and some of their customers during the trip. After some great discussion, we learned about opportunities for center pivot and linear irrigation, as well as advancements in technology, that we can help out with to make their lives better!

Along with the Sydney Harbour Bridge (pictured on the right), we took time to visit the Sydney Opera House, the Outback, and the Australia Maritime Museum.

Myself and Jim Summers (Valley Engineer)
Sydney Harbour Bridge
As most people do when they visit this part of the world, we saw kangaroos and emus. One of the gals in the Valley Marketing Department asked me if kangaroos were as common in residential areas as squirrels are here in the United States, but I'd equate them more to the presence of deer - and, let me tell you, if a kangaroo runs into your car, plan on taking a trip to your local body shop or car dealer.

Thanks to everyone who met with us during our trip, especially Wayne, Martin, and John of Valmont Irrigation Australia. Hopefully, we were able to answer some of your questions, and we definitely learned a lot!

More pictures from our trip can be viewed from the Valley Irrigation Facebook Page - click here to check them out!

As they say in Australia, "Cheers, mate!"

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!