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.