Thursday, June 27, 2013

Off We Go! | by Kelly Downing

Summer is finally here! Almost to the exact day, temperatures around the old homestead have warmed up into the summertime range (90°+, or 32°+ for our metric friends). All of us who worked through the significant drought last year are a little skittish about what the summer might bring. This spring has been relatively cool and wet around my house, but I can’t help thinking back to last year and how quickly (and thoroughly) things deteriorated in July and August. The latest drought index map (see below) shows that the drought is “officially” over in the eastern part of the country, but is still very real to my West and South. Being right on the border, I am certainly not getting cocky!

US Drought Monitor

Last week I got to visit SE Missouri and NE Arkansas. Our cooperator near Pocahontas, Arkansas, has some nice-looking rice (photo below), so we will see what this summer brings. We have begun to shift our focus a little in the Circles for Rice program. We really seem to have shown that this system works, so we now work to simply support people who want to try growing rice with pivots, as opposed to creating and promoting demonstration plots.

rice field

With the current economic issues at work, there still seems to be pressure for growers to shift acreage to other crops, at least here in the U.S. and in Brazil. In other areas, especially Africa, the situation is a bit different, and we have been working with several growers developing rice projects using pivots as the source of irrigation. These are, generally, relatively large projects, so they take quite a bit of time to get up and running. However, we will bring you news and progress reports as they develop.

A couple nights ago, I watched a television special on the Discovery Channel: Nik Walenda walked across the Grand Canyon on a cable, suspended 1500’ above the river below, with no tether or safety harness. He kind of reminded me of a farmer. He did a tremendous job of preparing, so that it really did look easy. Not easy enough for me to try it, though!

How many of you find yourselves in similar circumstances — balancing a lot of factors both known (crop production costs, machinery issues) and unknown (the vagaries of summer weather like severe storms or drought, crop price fluctuations)? It sometimes seems like the best approach is just what he did — prepare as well as we can, then just keep putting one foot in front of the other, until we get through the current season.

The good news is, we ARE into another summer, firmly seated in the rhythm of the crop growing season. Somehow, I think that helps farmers cope with some of the other peripheral issues that pop up. There is something neat about growing a crop, and it brings us back to earth in a lot of ways. We might not know how the future is going to work out, but we do know how to recognize what is happening in our fields, and what to do about it. That process gives keeps us in our comfort zone; it allows us to focus on what we enjoy doing, and doing well. So, I encourage you to stay safe and have a great growing season. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Stay in touch, and let us know how things are going in your neck of the woods (or prairies!).

Have a comment or question on the drought in the U.S. or growing rice with center pivots? Drop us a note in the Comments box below!

Kelly Downing
Global Irrigation Specialist

Kelly, Nebraska-based Irrigation Specialist, spent 10 years working on soil and water research projects for a major agricultural university, involving a variety of crops. His work focused on irrigation management, but also included other topics. 
Since joining Valley Irrigation, he has worked in the fields of Service, Product Management, Product Reliability and Sales. Kelly focuses on developing projects in irrigation field management and providing recommendations for the Circles for Rice project. Kelly has traveled to several countries providing technical support, such as soil moisture monitoring and irrigation management training.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Welcome to the Valley Team, Shannon!

Shannon Peterson is the newest addition to the Valley® Irrigation marketing team. She is a recovering news junkie, having spent more than 15 years in the business. Shannon worked as a reporter for daily newspapers and for The Associated Press, and as an online editor for the Omaha World-Herald’s website. She recently spent three years promoting Nebraska and its tourism opportunities to the media.

Shannon enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks. She occasionally writes about her travels for Home & Away magazine. She 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.

Please help us welcome Shannon to the Valley Irrigation Marketing team!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

In Focus: Center Pivot and Linear Irrigation

As the global population continues to grow, the demand for food and fiber will continue to increase. In order to meet the rising demand for food, more farmland will have to be irrigated. Click below to learn more about how center pivot and linear irrigation will help keep the world's growing population fed and help conserve the world's most precious resources.

This segment of In Focus will air on PBS Summer 2013.

Want to watch more videos on center pivot and linear irrigation? Visit!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Simple vs. Easy | by Kelly Downing

I (and I am sure many others) often blur the meanings of the terms “simple” and “easy.” We are all familiar with the adage “the best plan is a simple plan." I think most people inherently find this principle sound. Where it falls apart is the reality that simple does not equate with easy. There are many activities that are relatively complex, but we view as being easy. To use a couple of extreme examples, things like tying your shoes, riding a bicycle, or brushing your teeth require some relatively complex motor skills. Most of the time, though, they are considered easy to do (except with a broken wrist!). On the other hand, if we consider Omaha Beach on D-Day, the strategy for our heroes was relatively simple—jump from the landing craft, advance past the beach, and continue inland. Nothing could be farther from easy.
Valmont Irrigation Territory Sales Manager and
Valley dealer with crew

I was reminded of this difference recently while visiting a new rice operation. This was a brand-new development, growing rice in a desert area never before tilled. In theory, the process is relatively simple: plant, fertilize, irrigate, and control weeds. In practice, this is a daunting challenge. Our friends have made a lot of progress, but there are problems. As we toured the field and looked at conditions, I was reminded how difficult it is to start an entirely new enterprise like this. Building the infrastructure to supply water, installing the pivots, and getting the crop in the ground required a big investment in money, effort, and will.

Nevertheless, they were able to build the water supply system, install the irrigation equipment, and get the crop planted. They also have been diligent in irrigating and doing various field operations—herbicide application, fertilizing, etc. Unfortunately, a couple of “simple” things are causing some big headaches. The primary issue is weed control. As we have found in other areas, desert soils can grow many things quite well, if irrigated. This includes weeds, of course. In fact, with great water and fertility, they grow like… well, like weeds! Now the weeds have almost taken over the crop. The farm operators are working to battle this issue, but it is a tough slog. They decided to hand-weed and continue the fight.

Taken at sunset from my hotel room
As we all realize, there are a few factors that contribute to this issue. One is equipment, as they use hand-held sprayers to apply herbicide. This really limits the uniformity, concentration, and timeliness of the herbicide applications. Probably the biggest factor, though, was the limited number of products available. Relying on only one or two herbicides can really limit options. It appears that, in this instance, they “brought a knife to a gunfight.”

Fortunately, these are bright, motivated people, and they are working diligently to solve their problems. I am confident they will find and implement the procedures necessary to succeed with future crops. It will not be “easy,” but then, how many worthwhile accomplishments are? We will certainly revisit this project in the future, and I am sure there will be better news to report. It is important to remember that the first time any of us try something new, we never produce our best results. So, even when things look daunting early, we observe, learn and adapt to achieve success.

Now, I just need to remember these principles the next time I hear some goober (like myself) look at a situation from the outside and ignorantly say “It’s simple. All you need to do is…” Yeah, it may be simple, but that doesn’t mean easy. If it was easy, anybody could do it!

So, as you go out and face the challenges of your own operation, keep your chin up and keep fighting the good fight. It is a new growing season, and already there have been unique challenges in different locations. Keep working the situation, make good decisions and do what you can. Have a safe and prosperous growing season, and stay in touch!

For more information on the Valley Circles for Rice project, visit

Kelly Downing
Global Irrigation Specialist

Kelly, Nebraska-based Irrigation Specialist, spent 10 years working on soil and water research projects for a major agricultural university, involving a variety of crops. His work focused on irrigation management, but also included other topics. 
Since joining Valley Irrigation, he has worked in the fields of Service, Product Management, Product Reliability and Sales. Kelly focuses on developing projects in irrigation field management and providing recommendations for the Circles for Rice project. Kelly has traveled to several countries providing technical support, such as soil moisture monitoring and irrigation management training.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Valley Irrigation Product Video is Now Available to Watch in English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, French, Chinese, and Arabic | by Kelly Cox

We are pleased to announce the availability of the Valley® Irrigation product video in English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, French, Chinese, and Arabic! Click any of the videos below to watch them from this blog. You can expand each video to view on full screen mode, as well as share each video (which we highly encourage!).

Be sure to visit the Valley Irrigation YouTube Channel for the latest demonstrations, product information, and announcements!

What Valley products or services do you want to learn more about? Leave us a note in the Comments box below - we want to hear from you!

Español (Spanish)
Pусский (Russian)
Português (Portuguese)
Français (French)
中文 (Chinese)
العربية (Arabic)

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 and cat Kiba. She considers herself a wine connoisseur (though, 3 buck Chuck is delicious!) and has a love of painting, dance, and singing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Experience at Agrishow Riberiao and Valmont Industria e Comercio in Brazil | by Matt Ondrejko

  • Valley Irration booth at Agrishow in Brazil
  • Silver Award for Innovation for Valley Corner - Joao Rebequi recipient
  • Valley Irrigation booth at Agrishow in Brazil
  • Vincius Melo, Matt Ondrejko, Karine Gonclaves

Agrishow Riberiao in Brazil is one of the largest agricultural shows in the world. This show is held every year, and in 2013 celebrated its 20th year of serving the agricultural community in Brazil. I had the opportunity to visit this show in May, while on a trip to visit our key growers and dealers in the region.

The main focus of the Agrishow is to bring innovation and technology to the farmers of Brazil, and to showcase new products that can increase their efficiency and yields. As always, Valmont Irrigation had a very large presence at the show, other key international companies were there as well such as John Deere®, Case®, New Holland®, and many others. The thing that struck me was the sheer size of the show and the volume of people that came to visit on any given day. On Thursday, the second day of the show, they set an all-time attendance record of 40,000 people visiting the Agrishow.

For Valley® and myself, it was a great opportunity to discuss irrigation solutions with our key customers, as well as foster new relationships with future potential customers. We spent a lot of time sharing stories and discussing how irrigation solutions are applied in Brazil, and the similarities that we see globally between different regions. We were proud to win the Silver Award for Innovation at the Agrishow for the introduction of our Valley Corner into the Brazilian market. It was exciting for the whole Brazilian team and something they were certainly proud of!

The spirit of the Brazilian people is contagious, and their passion for innovative solutions to agricultural management is impressive. It was a great trip and one that I took a lot away from. I am looking forward to my next trip to Brazil!

Matt Ondrejko

VP Global Marketing

Matt is the newest addition to the Valley Irrigation Global Marketing Department. 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.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Low-pressure Sprinkler Technology for Center Pivots and Linears | Leading the Way in Water Application

Originally posted in the Spring 2009 edition of PivotPoint.

Consider what low-pressure sprinkler technology can do for your operation.

If your center pivot or linear machine is currently running at high pressure, consider this: low-pressure sprinkler technology effectively operates at 10-20 PSI, both reducing your input costs and protecting soil integrity. It also allows for precise application in different zones. This not only helps those producers in areas where water restrictions are an ever increasing concern, but any producer who is interested in more managed and uniform irrigation for crops, less soil disruption, and lower operating costs.

“Efficiency and uniformity are important factors in water application,” explained Jerry Gerdes, Water Application Product Manager at Valley® Irrigation. “Water droplets must be large enough that wind won’t evaporate or blow them away, but not too large to create run off and soil disruption. The challenge for our sprinkler suppliers is to create sprinklers that work at the highest efficiency, getting as much water in the ground as possible, while avoiding those traditional problems.” According to Gerdes, rotating sprinklers available through the Valley product line have been able to strike this balance.

Doug Muscott, a sales engineer with LAD Irrigation in Othello, Washington, agreed. “I’ve been designing and selling irrigation equipment for more than 30 years, and I know that what matters to the grower is good engineering. Sometimes people get caught up in the flash of what’s new, but in the end it is about delivering the right amount of water for that crop. The new technology being used at Valley does this.” 

“The low-pressure equipment now available is designed to deliver optimal irrigation water within the important parameters – soil intake rate, water holding capacity of the soil, climate and water needs, and of course the type of crops being farmed,” he added.

There are additional benefits to using low-pressure sprinklers, according to James Burks, President of Senninger® Irrigation, a Valley sprinkler supplier. “The trend is to cut back on water available for irrigation. Producers are asked to produce sufficient crops to feed a burgeoning world population and be profitable with less water, so water efficiently making its way to the plant is of huge importance. If we can provide high pattern integrity and low pressure application, we can help growers do so,” he shared.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of Senninger i-Wob UP3 sprinklers on a center pivot.  For more Senninger sprinkler video demonstrations, visit their YouTube Channel.

Jim Reid, co-owner of Reid Brothers Irrigation in Unadilla, Georgia, sees low-pressure sprinklers helping growers using zone application as well. “For the producers we work with who grow multiple crops, these low-pressure sprinklers are ideal. Using one of the Valley panels, like the Select2 or Pro2, they can put out different rates of water in each section, varying the amount of water on designated areas of the field. This eliminates the need to guess what time you must be in the field to slow the water down. It can now be automatically adjusted, even at low pressure.”

Valley has long been a leader in developing this technology and bringing it to growers. Along with their sprinkler partners, Nelson® Irrigation and Senninger Irrigation, they’re bringing the latest solutions to growers nationwide. Muscott believes the leadership of Valley within the industry in the area of low-pressure sprinklers comes from their dedication to not only engineering research and development, but staying on the forefront of the technology involved.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of Nelson A3000 Rotator® sprinklers on a center pivot.  For more Nelson sprinkler video demonstrations, visit their YouTube Channel.

“Water application specialists at Valley Irrigation are certified by the Irrigation Association, which indicates their dedication to staying at the forefront of irrigation technology. This is important for growers, because these are the same people dealers call for assistance when they are helping growers determine how to build a sprinkler package that will meet their particular needs. If you tie a grower to the wrong sprinkler package, it can have damaging effects on their bottom line. All input costs have inflation factors – including irrigation water and the energy necessary to get it to the crops. Costs will inflate, but commodity prices do not – they are volatile,” Muscott explained.

“The good news is that Valley, and their dealer network, not only has the advanced equipment, but the knowledge, the engineering experience and the insight to understand how best to apply the technology to the bottom line: helping growers do more with less,” he concluded.

For more information on water application packages for your center pivot or linear, contact your local Valley dealer or leave your comment below!

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