Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Can High-Tech Irrigation Work in Rural Africa?

Valley® has been working in Africa for many years. Recently, we have committed to developing a model of shared pivots for smallholder farmers.

Those efforts took a giant step forward recently with the development of a partnership between International Water Management Institute, the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute (DWFI) at the University of Nebraska, 
World Vision and Valmont® Industries, Inc.,

Here, DWFI research director Christopher Neale explains the Circles project, the collaborative initiative to introduce a modern pivot irrigation equipment in rural Tanzania. 

What do think? Can a project like this work? Share your comments below!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

'Tis the Season to Be #Thankful4Ag | by Shannon Peterson

Did you know that one in six people in the United States struggle with hunger? This holiday season, an effort is underway to help feed America, and you can help too. 

Bayer CropScience is providing 10 meals to Feeding America® every time you use #Thankful4Ag or share a digital meal on

Tomorrow is the last day to help reach the goal of providing 200,000 meals to the hungry. It's easy, go to, then:

    1. Make your digital meal by choosing your favorite holiday foods from the drop down menus.

    2. Learn something new about classic holiday dishes.

    3. Share your meal with your friends.

With each share, you give 10 meals to Feeding America, the nation's largest organization dedicated to fighting domestic hunger through a network of food banks. Learn more at

Let's see if we can get them to 200,000 meals.

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She writes and edits materials about irrigation equipment. Shannon enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for tourism magazines. She also likes trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Future of Overhead Low Pressure Irrigation in Australia | by Martin Porter

As we move into the future of agriculture in Australia, we will see a need for reduced production costs such as labor, chemicals and water, and also an increase in crop yields. 

This will be affected dramatically by climate change and the population growth within Australia and the world. Technology will be developed to reduce the inputs within these businesses moving into the future.

Low-pressure overhead irrigation has been used in Australia since the early 1960s, however it was never all that successful as the evaporation figures and development were USA-based. In some areas of Australia, the daily evaporation figures exceed 10 mm per day, which is higher than the original designs and led to the earlier failures.

In the 1980s, the research and development was limited in overhead irrigation. 
At this time, Australia had not seen droughts since Federation times (1895–1902) and there had never been a huge demand on the river systems until the drought of 1982–1983. 

The drought in 1991, through to the 1995 El Nino, was the worst drought since 1902. There was an increased demand on rivers and waterways, so irrigation practices had to change from then and into the future, with the increasing need to go to efficient irrigation.

This is when Valmont®
 Irrigation Australia opened in 1998 and started customizing application rates and delivering product from a warehouse based in Brisbane. It was the first to do so, as all product was directly imported prior to this.

Figure 1: Average Evaporation (2009) Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

Overhead irrigation concept 

Through the overhead irrigation concept, water is delivered through a pipeline or structure at a low pressure, normally regulated to 15 PSI or 1.03 bar at the sprinkler. These systems are designed in such a way that low connection pressure is the key, so they are designed with larger supply pipelines to reduce the connection pressures. Also, the pumps are matched at the higher efficiency levels to reduce long-term cost of ownership.

The efficiency of water delivered to the crop is 85 to 92 percent efficient, making this a very efficient way to irrigate.

Labor impacts

Labor costs are rising and any reduction in labor is a reduction in costs to farmers. Labor and time were not factored in many years ago, but now we have to look at this due to farmer’s families moving off the land and the corporate farmer being the norm for broad acre farming that produce cereals and grain crops. The average age of a farmer is increasing and as of 2011 was 55 years of age (Figure 2).

Overhead irrigation reduces the labor needs and it also reduces the skilled labor required on a farm. The occupational health and safety issues being seen are fatigue caused by long hours in the field and heat stress, so less time in the field for the farmer means a better lifestyle. This is also seen with air conditioned tractors and machinery getting larger and more efficient on the farms.

Figure 2: Age Profiles of farmers – 1981 and 2011 (Source: ABS Census of Populations and Housing)  

Financial costs

One of the greatest costs and increasing costs in the next few years will be energy. This is why with overhead irrigation there will need to be reduced cost of ownership, increased  size of pipelines and an examination of technology in pumping and water spray patterns. There will also be an option of creating on farm power generation systems using methane gas produced through generation units. This technology is being used in Europe and in Australia. There is a cane farmer near Mackay doing a trial with this sort of system, using the stubble and trash in a digester to create the gas used to power a generator. 

Also in the west of Australia, a farmer that grows carrots has wind turbines on his farm for his business' own use and for delivering power to the network. The use of solar technology also will be used on farms.

Technology changes

There will be adjustments to technology in water application and monitoring of irrigation equipment. These will be more regulated and farmers will make decisions based on this information. 

Advancement in farm technology will give us a guideline to crop yields versus water input, providing us maximum use of the water resource. Monitoring this technology will be via the cloud base technologies that we see today. There will be advancement to sensor technology and this will again give us a measurement of what our irrigation is doing. There will be advancement into the application of water and soil type changes within a field. Soil technology will become a factor in new farming methods, and agronomists will lead to some of these changes with sustainable practices becoming more accepted within farming. The use of technology will reduce time in the field and the final goal is to increase yields. 

Population growth

In Australia by 2030, it is estimated our population will increase by five million people, and worldwide we are looking at an increase from 7 billion in 2012 to 9.1 billion in 2050. We will see an increased demand of all resources and a reduction of water availability throughout Australia, and we will see the changes to more efficient irrigation practices throughout the world.


As Australia and the world’s population increases, we will have to change our ideas on food and lifestyle to adapt to what can be produced by our farmers. 

The way that the farms use technology is more supplementary at the moment and this will need to change to increase yields and reduce costs. Farmers need to reduce costs, look at what they are doing to the environment for future generations, and think about tomorrow - not just for today.

Martin Porter
Territory Sales Manager, Valmont Irrigation Australia

Martin has been involved with pumps since 1986 and irrigation since 1994. In 2003, he realized the future was efficiency in water movement and application, which led to his eventual position with Valmont. He has also worked in power generation, project management, total quality management, and real estate. In his spare time, Martin enjoys water sports, particularly sailing. He is a yachting instructor and trains up-and-coming Naval cadets.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

EQIP Deadline Fast Approaching | by Shannon Peterson

A recent email from the University of Georgia’s Striping Irrigation Research Park reminded growers that the deadline to apply for 2015 EQIP funding in Georgia is Dec. 19.

This notice struck me in two ways.

1. Even if you don’t live in Georgia, your EQIP deadline may be approaching. Most of you are probably familiar with the program, but for those who aren’t:

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) also helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

If you are making significant irrigation improvements to you operation, check with your state NRCS office to see if you are eligible for these programs. You can find your state’s EQIP page here, and it includes application ranking criteria, priority resource concerns, lists of eligible practices, payment rates, information about where you can submit applications, eligibility requirements and other program requirements.

2. My second thought was that I really get a lot of valuable information from Stripling Irrigation Research Park. Do other people realize how much this organization has to offer? I strongly recommend you check out the website, follow the SIRP Twitter feed and peruse its monthly newsletters, which include articles and a roundup of recent irrigation news stories.

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She writes and edits materials about irrigation equipment. Shannon enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for tourism magazines. She also likes trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Embrace Technology - It's Driving Agriculture | by Matt Ondrejko

Being responsible for Global Marketing provides me some great opportunities to travel the world and meet people from all over.

Last week I happened to be in Brazil at the annual Valley® Brazilian dealer meeting. I was in the presence of several hundred dealers that bleed Valley blue - it is a good place to be.

During the meeting, I had the honor of listening to a local Brazilian speaker Silvana Goulart, who was brought in to discuss the importance of working to create prospective sales and customers through various means. One thing that struck me was her passionate plea to the Brazilian dealers to understand times are changing. The customer is changing, the way they run their businesses is changing, the way the dealer does business is changing – and it is all being driven by technology!
Matt Ondrejko and Silvana Goulart

The younger generation of farmers – inheriting the business from their parents, or buying into a farm – want to do things simpler, faster and more effectively. They want technology to help them drive decisions, increase their quality of life, allow them more family time. Oh yes, and make them more money!

This is the message being communicated in Brazil today; it is the same message and same trend being seen around the world. Sure the rate of technological adoption is different from country to country, but the simple fact is that technology is influencing the way we do business at an accelerated rate. It is changing our expectations, our perceptions and the amount of time we are willing to wait for action and results.

If we do not recognize and adopt technology to our benefit, we will lose and our competition will pass us by. This is true for any business or any walk of life. People who embrace and use technology will accelerate and succeed.

Thank you Ms. Goulart for driving home a message that is considerably important to the success of all us.

Embrace technology, use it to your benefit, help your customer use it – I promise it will reward you.

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, December 4, 2014

BaseStation3 Offers Option of No Recurring Fees | by John Campbell

I’ve been showing BaseStation3™ at a lot of ag shows, open houses and customer visits. Each time the audiences’ interest is focused on a different unique feature of BaseStation3. 

One grower or group might be particularly interested in the mobile app; its clean design and intuitive operation. A different group may focus on the user configurability that no other product offers. Yet another group likes the fact that an Internet connection isn’t required for BaseStation3 to work.

Of all the things that makes it “best in class,” when I tell growers that BaseStation3 is the only product on the market that offers the option of no monthly or annual fees, I always get their undivided attention.

The only product that offers unprecedented user configuration; the only product that doesn’t require access to the Internet; the only product that allows over-the-air transfer of Variable Rate Irrigation prescriptions; the only product that allows a combination of different communication links to the field and the option of no recurring fees.

How can it get any better than that?

John Campbell
Advanced Technology Product Manager

John Campbell coordinates all of the Valley remote control and monitoring technology products, including BaseStation3. John lives in north Omaha, where he pursues his many hobbies, including classic cars and running.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Precision Irrigation Story | by Andy Smith

I recently had the privilege of attending and participating in the Water for Food global conference in Seattle. As an irrigation professional for most of my adult life, I listen to the dialogue in such conferences with a tainted opinion. I know we will have the solutions it will take to feed and clothe the world's population in 2050. We will even have the luxury of being able to produce excess biomass for energy and other bio-based products. The question is, will the marketplace, public policy and society allow us to execute and meet the challenge?

I make the above statement based sheerly upon science. However, advancing and sustaining the global agricultural system requires a balanced, three-pronged approach, with equal regard for social, environmental and economic considerations. An environmental system will not work without supporting social and economic systems. A social system will fail without a healthy economic and environmental system, while the best economic system can cripple social and environmental systems. Finding a balance is key.

It is also important to recognize the need for sustainability strategies to be locally adaptable. In an extreme example, it is clear that farming in Arizona looks much different than it does in my home state of Michigan, and it should. Social, economic and environmental systems vary by field, farm, locale, region and country. Too often, public policy is written in one-size-fits-all mode and it is ineffective because it is irrelevant when applied locally. While global, national and regional agricultural policies are important, such policies have to be adaptable to harmonize with field-level, social, environmental and economic needs.

So why is any of this important? The readers of this blog represent a local piece of the global agricultural system. There are many voices being heard about what agriculture should be doing, or not doing, to meet the needs of a growing global population. 
Unfortunately, agriculture has become so productive; we need fewer people to feed the world. Our voices are often drowned out by uninformed opinions, or worse, absent from the discussions that decide what agriculture should look like in the future. 

In this age of non-stop news and viral social media, it is more important now than ever to participate in the dialogue and tell The Precision Irrigation Story to those involved in rule making and governance at all levels impacting agriculture.

Tip O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." I think this is particularly true with agriculture. Especially precision irrigated agriculture.

Speaking up should be easy. The irrigation industry, particularly Valley®, has a great story to tell. We have developed the means to surgically apply precise amounts of water where it is needed, when it is needed, with variable rate application technology. We are developing mechanisms to empower growers to share and consume information across a variety of farm management systems (BaseStation3™ and Irrigation Exchange™), leading to a more holistic approach to water management in harmony with telematics, sensors, biotechnology, software and supporting infrastructure. The tools are there now and they are continuing to expand and get better every day. And the good news, it’s working!

In the U.S., we are using less water than we did in 1970. Things like this don't happen by accident. Improving the way we irrigate has been a big contributing factor. Agricultural output continues to increase while inputs decrease. We are also proving that land can be farmed and made better at the same time. Farming is not linear, it is cyclical, as is water. Each time we place that seed in the soil represents renewed opportunity. So too, the practice of precision irrigation can represent a regenerative step in the hydrologic cycle.

Trends in total water withdrawals by water-use category, 1950–2010. (® U.S. Geological Survey)

At the Water for Food conference I kept hearing a term I have grown very fond of over the last several weeks: "sustainable intensification." It provides opportunities for optimizing crop production per unit area, taking into consideration the range of sustainability aspects including potential and/or real social, political, economic and environmental impacts.

Our commitment is to continue to develop more and better precision irrigation tools to help fulfill that goal. Be proud of what you do in precision irrigated agriculture and thank you for making Valley your partner in precision irrigation. 

Andrew Smith
Director of Industry Relations

Andy has spent more than 27 years involved in the irrigation industry as a farmer, contractor, designer, salesman, and trade representative. At Valley, he manages strategic relationships for mechanized irrigation technology across a broad range of applications. Andy lives in northern Michigan with his wife, Kim, and his daughter, Madison, and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

And the Gold Award in Agriculture Goes to ... | by Pauline Merz

The European Irrigation Association (EIA), which strives to “to improve the products, practices and services used to manage water resources and to contribute to the global improvement of the environment,”  took advantage of the last EIMA tradeshow in Bologna, Italy, to hold its 2014 EIA Awards ceremony. 

The objective was to “recognize and promote the irrigation industry’s most innovative products or services for environmental sustainability." The contest was open to all companies that built innovative products, equipment, sites, projects or designs that promote water and energy savings. 

The jury, composed by recognized international experts, awarded Valmont® Irrigation  for its Valley® Variable Irrigation Rate product with the 2014 Agriculture Gold Award.

It was also the time when the General Assembly elected its new board members.  

We are glad to say that they can count on a new member: Philipp Schmidt-Holzmann, general manager of Valmont Irrigation Western Europe and West Africa, who has joined the EIA board for three years. Congratulations Philipp on your new challenge!

Pauline Merz
Marketing Responsible - Western Europe & West Africa

Pauline joined Valmont Irrigation in 2012. After being in charge of the French market (Spare Parts and Marketing activities), she became Marketing Responsible for Western Europe and West Africa. Native of France, Pauline has been living in Spain for three years. She enjoys meeting new people and discovering other cultures through their way of life. Pauline is also fond of sports such as mountain biking, trekking and tennis.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Future of Agriculture at the Sunbelt Ag Expo | by Tyler Fields

Tyler with his nephew,
the "future" of ag, at Sunbelt Ag Expo.
It was just another day in paradise! That was the outlook at the Sunbelt Ag Expo this past October in south Georgia, which some (myself that is) would even say God’s country!
I love the time of year when I see young kids and older adults walking around looking at the future of agriculture. Future isn’t just the new equipment and new technology, but it is also the young kids that are growing up and learning to live that demanding life in agriculture. 

Valley Water Management (VWM) uses new, cutting-edge technology to bring sustainability to your farm. Through our Variable Frequency Drives, custom telemetry and custom-engineered pump stations we are “Conserving Resources. Improving Life.” Think about that! I believe it means that in order for farms to grow and succeed for the younger generations, we need to use less to do more.

As you go throughout your day and the rest of the year, remember that VWM can integrate multiple systems on your farm to make your work less demanding and give you more time to spend with the younger “future” generation. Contact your local Valley Dealer with additional questions.

Meanwhile, I would like to wish you and your “futures” a Happy Thanksgiving!

R. Tyler Fields
Agricultural Engineer

Tyler, an agricultural engineer specializing in land and water resources, joined Valley Water Management in April 2013. He had worked in the Valley network for many years, enabling him to work closely with the agricultural irrigation community in assessing the needs of the farm and other Ag industries. Tyler grew up on a dairy farm in south Florida and also has been involved in the daily operations of ranches and row crop farms. Working for VWM allows him to pair his education and his love for agriculture.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Valley Irrigation Western Europe and West Africa Brings its Dealers to Dubai, UAE | by Pauline Merz

How to thank our Valley® dealers for the good job they did this year in difficult markets, the great Valley image they project to the agricultural sector, and the excellent service they provide to farmers?

These were the complicated questions that our team recently had to deal with. 

How could we possibly thank them? 1) Find a great place to go, 2) Have a perfectly professional reason to go there, and 3) Create an interesting training content … not a big deal at all!

The city of Dubai came quickly to mind: a business hub, the most populated city of the United Arab Emirates, and home to an excellent Valley factory.

One's first impression of Dubai is similar to entering a science fiction movie such as “Elysium” or the “Fifth Element”: Tall, endless buildings that take your breath away; amazing car brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Hummer…. Words such as endless possibilities, service and innovation cross your mind. It was just the place we needed to be to showcase these exact values to our dealer network.

It's October 29, 8 a.m., after a three-hour night, and here we go! The first day of our 2014 sales training: 75 Europeans and Africans, all experienced mechanized irrigation professionals, ready to begin the adventure. From this point, it was an intensive two days of training on the Valley brand, products, sales and service; followed by an enthusiastic Valmont Middle East Factory tour; and a fantastic Desert Safari Tour.

Our dealers headed home with blue blood, excited for the opportunity to sell their next Valley machines. Proud to be part of the Valley family and waiting impatiently for the next Valley sales training edition! It will be tough for us to top this year’s event!

My last thought is of our Valley team. After quite a lot of stress and much time dedicated to preparing for this event, I’m unable to keep myself from thinking that it was much more than a professional training event. It was also an incredible human adventure with crazy laughs and wonderful moments spent together. We came back more united as ever, stronger and ready to begin another irrigation campaign. So guys, I just have to say “thank you and let’s continue because the show must go on.”

Enjoy this video of our adventure!

Pauline Merz
Marketing Responsible - Western Europe & West Africa

Pauline joined Valmont Irrigation in 2012. After being in charge of the French market (Spare Parts and Marketing activities), she became Marketing Responsible for Western Europe and West Africa. Native of France, Pauline has been living in Spain for three years. She enjoys meeting new people and discovering other cultures through their way of life. Pauline is also fond of sports such as mountain biking, trekking and tennis.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Voices of Women in Agriculture | by Kelly Cox

I am extremely proud to be a woman involved in agriculture. I am even prouder to have a voice in agriculture. Not many people know this (or, maybe many do and I’ve just been living under a rock), but I am the person behind the scenes of the Valley Website and social media channels. I help create, curate, and publish messages that I think others want to hear; people who are not only interested in the Valley® brand, but also agriculture in general.

The invention of social media and commercially available Website development has allowed others like me to bring their own voices to the ag conversation. Over the years, I’ve started to follow some of these voices, and I’d like to introduce you to some that you will hopefully bring into your own circles.

The Adventures of Dairy Carrie
© Carrie Mess

Carrie Mess, also known as “Dairy Carrie” on social media, has brought intrigue to the dairy world through her blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. Though her focus is dairy, she writes about anything from human interest stories to anything cool in ag that she feels like sharing with her followers.

Takeaway: Carrie’s blog includes a great ongoing segment called “Humans of Agriculture” that tells the story of everyday people involved in ag. Get your tissues ready – some are real tear-jerkers!

@DairyCarrie | |

Pink Tractor
© Pink Tractor

Pink Tractor is an online presence that just I found recently, but it really speaks to the ag girl in me! It aims to give women in ag a voice and reminds its followers that women are smart, strong farmers. Its Website,, has a lot to offer: information on ag markets and farm safety, tidbits for the family, and even used equipment listings!

Takeaway: Pink Tractor regularly publishes articles about women in ag that tell their stories. If you know anyone who should be featured in one of these articles, email Pink Tractor at

@PinkTractorTW | |

International Women's Day
© International Women's Day

Each year on March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day. Though this day of recognition isn’t limited to celebrating women in agriculture, it focuses on achievements of women throughout history and throughout the world, including those who are part of the ag industry! This past International Women’s Day, several blog posts were posted about women in ag, including the following that I urge you all to check out:

Takeaway: This is an annual event , so you have multiple opportunities to celebrate it!

@womensday | |

I am proud to be a woman involved in agriculture, and I have a voice. Let’s continue to nurture the voices of women in agriculture around the world.

Kelly Cox
Global Digital Marketing Manager

Kelly is a native of Omaha, NE, and has degrees in English and Web Development. She joined the Valley Irrigation Global Marketing Department in 2008 where she shares her love of web and all things digital marketing with her colleagues and the Valley dealer network. Outside of her life at Valley, Kelly enjoys reading, singing, and spending time with her family.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What it Means to be a Valley Dealer | by Patrick Scates

What does it mean to be a Valley® dealer? To me, it means you belong to this large interconnected family!

“So, what do you do for a living?” It’s one of the first questions a person asks when you meet a new person or see an old friend.

“I sell irrigation center pivots,” just doesn’t do it justice. For me, it’s much, much more than that. This dealership is something I have been around since I was 6 years old. It’s a family business that my father and uncles started in 1983. So the dealership feels like part of the family. I have watched it grow over the years, through good times and rough times. Just like a family member facing difficulties, the dealership always made it through the rough times with the help of family. 

As I got older, my cousins and I started taking on bigger roles. We became the ones guiding the dealership in the direction that we thought was best for it. When you take on those roles, you start to see the bigger picture of what you’re involved in. That bigger picture is that we are a part of a greater family, the Agriculture Family of America.

We don’t just sell Valley pivots to farmers; it feels like we have a partnership with each one of the farmers we sell to. Some people sell things and that’s it. They sell it and don’t care if it actually works or if it’s even what the customer needs. It’s not like that as a Valley dealer. If it were, why would we answer the phone at 5 a.m. or 10 p.m. when a customer needs help? We answer the phone because we care, because our customers are a part of the agriculture family, and because we want to help our family. The business continues to grow, which means our agriculture family only gets bigger – just like a real family grows as the years go by.

Another important family member is the team we gain by becoming a Valley dealer; the Valley employees that we rely on every day for support. They aren’t just co-workers, they become our friends. We might only see once them a year, but it feels like we have known them a lifetime because we talk on such a regular basis to ensure our customers are getting what they need. You will not find better or harder working people in the Ag Family. To me, there really is no other company that comes close to the Valley family when you try to compare genuinely caring people who want to help their dealers.

Each year at the annual sales meetings, I’m reminded that we aren’t just selling pivots; we are helping feed the ever-expanding population of the world. With each new pivot we sell an extra bushel per acre can be raised to help feed that hungry child down the street or on the other side of the globe. My own children remind me why it’s important to get up every day and strive to make our dealership better, which in turn makes a better, healthier world. I also hope that my children will grow up around the dealership and come to love and care for it just as I have, by watching me just like I watched my own father. If they do, I’m hopeful they will have as much passion as I have for the dealership and will keep growing it to the next level.

So know that if you ask me the question, “what do you do for a living?”; and I only say, “I sell Valley irrigation center pivots,” it actually has a much deeper meaning to me.

Patrick Scates
General Manager
Scates Valley Inc. in Carmi, IL

Patrick enjoys anything to do with agriculture and politics. When he isn't at work he loves spending time with his four children, Zoey, Maggie, and twin boys, Thomas and Henry. Any free time is enjoyed playing golf or spending time with the family at a cabin on a small lake in southern Illinois.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Water Situation in South Africa | by Jacqueline Lourens

Experts say South Africa is facing a ticking time bomb in providing water for its citizens. South Africa is a semi-arid country where water is of critical strategic importance to all development, in any sector of the economy. The future economic expansion of this country could be harmed should the water resources not be optimally utilized to the benefit of all current and future users. 

The Institute for Security Studies forecasts that South Africa's current water shortage will increase three-fold by 2035. Research indicates that the agricultural sector alone accounts for approximately 50 percent of water utilization in South Africa and experiences water losses of between 30 and 40 percent. The country has a shortage of one trillion litres of water, and all indications are it will worsen.

Various campaigns have been launched in the hope of increasing the awareness of the need to value water and to use it wisely. Water resources are under tremendous pressure from a growing population, ongoing development, pollution, wetland destruction, alien invasive plants, and climate change.

In order to gain more productivity from water use, farmers will need to be encouraged to consider various options of farming and irrigation methods that maximize crop production and minimize water consumption. Wherever possible, new proven and tested technologies should be used. Irrigation scheduling methods, as well as the use of different crop varieties should be practiced in order to conserve water.

Center pivot irrigation is one of the most efficient forms of irrigation in the world. Flooding the surface of the field with water uses TWICE as much water as center pivot equipment. In fact, a center pivot can be up to 95 percent efficient.

The only answer to this water shortage dilemma in South Africa lies in changing people's attitude and thus their behavior to use water more wisely.

Jacqueline Lourens
Personal Assistant

Jacqueline has been with Valley Irrigation of Southern Africa since 2011. Jacqui loves being part of the marketing team where she spends most of her time tending to the needs of two sales managers in an extremely challenging and fast-paced environment. In her spare time, Jacqui cranks up the volume and listens to music of all genres. She enjoys reading horror and suspense novels and her favourite author is Stephen King. Jacqui has an immense passion for animals and nature, and enjoys camping and hiking. She believes that life doesn’t provide any guarantees… it only provides possibilities and opportunities for those who dare to make best use of it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Learning and Fun on Saturday Morning | by Cole Fredrick

A few months back, I got the opportunity participate in an Art (+) Smart Saturdays program at The Durham Museum. The event featured engineering and focused on Valmont® Industries, Inc., and the products it produces. So, naturally it included Structures, Lighting and, of course, Valley® Irrigation. 

This program was a chance for kids of all ages to come in and see what companies such as Valmont and Kiewit produce or manufacture, and also how they developed. This was a great opportunity to not only talk to kids, but also parents, about the industry, where we have been, and where we are going. I spent much of the time talking with folks about how their parents or grandparents had worked for Valley and the experiences they had.

Many people had grown up on farms and knew exactly what a center pivot was. At the same time, it was entertaining to hear from others that they thought crop circles were from aliens! (I still always describe my job like that when traveling). It was amazing to show them how we produce crops and how technology can link everything together.

We also offered some hands-on projects. I set up a BaseStation3™ module and essentially let the kids play a video game of irrigating. It is always interesting when you tell them you can water the world from an iPhone®. Plus, it is literally like a video game.

The Valmont structures team was also there, and  one of the activities they offered was a gumdrop structure build off. This was entertaining as the kids normally walked away with super sticky fingers and a parent shrugging their shoulders!

This experience helped me realize the importance of educating and especially hands-on learning. What I thought would be a boring Saturday morning turned out to be a great day of learning and visiting.

Which brings me to my last thought, since this was such a good event, make sure to visit the Omaha Children’s Museum where Valmont has an actual pivot outside and a smaller pivot inside for the kids to see! It is called Once Upon a Farm and it is sure to lead to a good time and lots of learning!

Cole Fredrick
Product Manager - Variable Rate Irrigation

Cole has been with Valley Irrigation since 2011, where he manages the Valley Variable Rate Irrigation products. He was born and raised on a farm near Grand Island, NE (AKA "paradise"), and he tries to return back home as often as possible. Cole is a HUGE Husker fanatic! He stays young by enjoying all outdoor activities and almost any sport.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Are There Advantages to Long Spans? | by John Kastl

Valley® offers the longest spans available from any pivot manufacturer; a 225’ 8000 series in North America, and a 72 m 8120 for international markets. Let’s take a look at these spans and how they can benefit you and your operation.

All spans consist of a pipeline to transfer and distribute water over the field, a trussing system to support the pipeline and a drive unit to move through the field. While all pivots have spans, there is no comparison between Valley span design and others. Our design philosophy has been developed over more than 60 years and is recognized as the industry leader by which everyone else is compared. We utilize the latest computer design technologies, such as 3-D modeling and finite element analysis, to ensure that our spans are the strongest with the longest life. The design quality is confirmed using both field testing and accelerated life testing.

Valley spans are more than just a combination of components. While others use modular designs to reduce manufacturing and inventory costs, we optimize the various components to provide the correct fit for each span length. This allows us to offer the longest spans in the industry while maintaining the same strength and durability you’ve come to expect from Valley.

Longer spans save you money by not only reducing the purchase cost of your machine, but also by eliminating the ongoing operation and maintenance associated with extra drive units. Fewer gearboxes, tower boxes, and tires mean fewer parts to maintain and repair. Fewer motors mean less energy required to operate your machine. And, one less wheel track in your field means less crop damage and more yield.

All Valley spans are designed for excellent stability. We use extra-deep trussing and special truss rods for each span to ensure a smooth shape and even loading throughout the span. The wide v-jack trussing stabilizes the pipe, and the Valley-exclusive tower support and tie brace design firmly anchor the span to the drive unit. Also, our engineers test each span length to ensure it meets our rigid specifications for stability and wind resistance.

One thing to keep in mind when selecting longer spans on fields with rolling terrain: small hills in-between the drive units are more likely to decrease crop clearance. In tall crops, such as corn, this can cause drag on the span. In those situations, the adjacent drive units should be high profile. On heavily rolling terrain, shorter spans are a better solution.

One concern we hear is that the higher weight of a long span results in deep wheel tracks and stuck machines. That’s not necessarily true. The key factor in wheel tracking is ground pressure, not span weight. Ground pressure is primarily related to tire inflation pressure, not the weight of the span. Selecting the proper tire size and maintaining the correct inflation pressure will ensure minimal wheel rutting even with long spans. For especially difficult conditions, Valley offers a number of tire and flotation options to ensure your irrigation machine can operate in nearly any field condition.

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 gearboxes, to name a few), helping to 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, October 30, 2014

Apple Season in Nebraska | by Kelly Cox

Last year, we gave you a snapshot of a classic agritourism stop in Nebraska – Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. This year, we’d like to give you another pin in your agriculture map with a quick tour of Nebraska apple season. 
AppleJack Festival
© Nebraska City AppleJack Festival
For the past two months, Nebraskans state-wide have been celebrating the apple harvest, beginning with the annual AppleJack Festival

Each September, Nebraska City opens its streets and orchards to nearly 80,000 people to kick off the harvest. This massive three-day event includes a parade, carnival, craft fairs, live music, and, of course, APPLES. And I’m not just talking about freshly-picked apples; anything you can think of that is made from apples is available to sample and take home. 

Throughout the rest of the apple harvest season, the orchards remain open for anyone to experience, including a “u-pick” service and farmers’ markets. 

For the first time in my 28 years of being a Nebraskan, I went through the orchards and picked a peck of apples. I was absolutely AMAZED at how absolutely beautiful and expansive the orchards truly are! Many of the orchards have several kinds of apples available to pick, so you can mix and match what you take home.

There is also fun for the whole family at the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure® (or “Treeventure,” as I keep calling it). Along with apple picking, you and your family can learn about nature, take a guided tour of the Arbor Day Farm, and climb a massive 50-foot treehouse!

So, if you find yourself in Nebraska in early fall, be sure to plan a day to visit the orchards in and around Nebraska City. 

Click here for a full list of open orchards.

U-Pick Apple Service

Kelly Cox
Global Digital Marketing Manager

Kelly is a native of Omaha, NE, and has degrees in English and Web Development. She joined the Valley Irrigation Global Marketing Department in 2008 where she shares her love of web and all things digital marketing with her colleagues and the Valley dealer network. Outside of her life at Valley, Kelly enjoys reading, singing, and spending time with her family.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Great Year for Rice | by Kelly Downing

Rice harvest seems to have wrapped up in most of Missouri and Arkansas, and we again worked with some producers who wanted to grow rice under their center pivots. In 2014, three growers in three different states cooperated with us to again demonstrate the viability of this practice.

One of our past cooperators Dennis Robison grew rice again under his pivot near Nealyville, Mo. (South of Poplar Bluff). This was Dennis’ third rice crop under pivot, using a two-year rotation (rice-soybeans). Once again, he had excellent results. His yield under the pivot was 170 bushels/acre, equivalent to other yields in flooded fields nearby. Cool weather in July seemed to stunt yields across his farm, and his Rice Tec 745 under pivot performed just about the same as it did elsewhere.

Campbell Coxe , another past cooperator, grew rice again under a pivot near Society Hill, S.C. Campbell was again happy with his results—he got 125 bushes/acre, which was very satisfactory for the unique heirloom aromatic variety he grows, Carolina Gold. Campbell is vertically integrated; he grows, mills, processes and sells his rice to the retail market. You can check out his website here.

A third cooperator John Taylor tried pivot rice for the first time near Hughes, Ark. This was a trial for him, as he begins to get into rice production. His Roy J yielded 182 bushels/acre, and he was very pleased. Taylor is encouraged that the system can work and that this gives him another tool to use as he increases rice acreage in future years.

Based on his pivot operating hours, it looks like he used less than 24” of irrigation, which seems like a reasonable number. I don’t have weather records for his field, and I know this seemed like a wet year in his area. However, based on the soil type for his field, I think this was a very good result. 

Below is a photo of Taylor’s rice at the end of July. You can see that the stand looks good and the weed pressure is manageable.

In general, I think we had another good year with pivot rice. As we move forward, the reduction in corn and soybean prices may lead to more interest in increasing rice acres. This practice certainly puts another arrow in farmers’ quivers as they manage rotation, weed control and marketing issues in their operations.

Also, remember that the USDA RMA approved pivot irrigation as an irrigation management system. Crop insurance for this practice should be available to producers in Missouri, Arkansas and Texas beginning in the 2016 crop year. This should make the decision easier for those who want to try a promising new management idea while limiting their financial risk.

I thank you for your interest in this topic and your attention to these posts. Continue to work safely through the remainder of the harvest season, and stay in touch!

Kelly Downing
International Ag Project Specialist

Kelly, a 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 service, product management, product reliability, and sales. Kelly now 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.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dedicated Student Raising Money to Buy Pivot for his College | by Shannon Peterson

Some people have a gift – sometimes they don’t even realize it.

Kevin Hawman, a sophomore at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Ore., is one of those people. The 19-year-old is studying ag business and crop production at BMCC, but he is doing so much more.
After a miserable February day spent repairing old wheel line sprinklers on the school’s student farm, Kevin was frustrated with the old irrigation equipment. But rather than complain – as many college students would – Kevin decided to take action.

He launched a fund-raising campaign, so he could buy a new Valley® center pivot and a Valley for his school. This is no band-trip fundraiser. Kevin needed $25,000 for the pivot and $65,000 for the linear – after a $30,000 discount from Valley. But he wasn’t daunted by the price.

“I really want to give back,” said Hawman, who grew up on his family farm in Hermiston, Ore. “I’ve been at BMCC for a year and it’s so great. I just wanted to give back to the school.”

Some of that generosity may be in his genes. Twenty years ago, his father, Mike Hawman – a BMCC alumnus, donated a pivot to the school. Mike helped his son develop a list of potential donors.

So far, Kevin has raised $33,000. Two weeks ago he ordered a two-tower Valley pivot that will be delivered soon.

He still needs about $57,000 to purchase the five-tower linear, but he is determined to reach his goal.

I asked Kevin, ‘why Valley pivots?’

“Because of my background,” Kevin said. “My dad has had a great relationship with Valley and I grew up with Valley pivots. I just wanted to get the best and I wanted to get Valley.”

Kevin Hawman – not just a generous heart, but a good head on his shoulders!

Want to help Kevin out? Contact him at

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She writes and edits materials about irrigation equipment. Shannon enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for tourism magazines. She also likes trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Top Five Recommended Fall Maintenance Tips

The growing season doesn't end with harvest. Taking care of your irrigation equipment now will prevent costly repairs and downtime next year. Give your center pivot a checkup so it will be ready to roll when planting season arrives.

To help you with post-harvest maintenance, Valley® offers its Top Five maintenance tips:

1. Wheel Tracks - Be sure to fill deep wheel tracks during the off-season to reduce stress on irrigation, tillage, and harvest equipment. To help prevent future tracking, consider changing to a different type of tire, adding floatation, or modifying the sprinkler package to reduce water application to the wheel tracks.

2. Drive Train - To maximize the life of your drive train and keep it operating trouble-free, drain water from the wheel gearbox and center drive, and make sure the gear lubricant is at the appropriate level.

3. Pipe Flushing - Flushing your pipeline and cleaning your sand trap is essential, especially if you either have water quality problems or your irrigation water contains sand.

4. Moving Parts - Steel moving on steel without proper lubrication can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on irrigation equipment. Be sure to grease all moving parts, including the pivot point bearing, towable hubs, corner rollers, and legs.

5. Schedule Your Preventive Maintenance Check Our Valley dealers offer winterization programs for all brands of pivots. From inspections and tire pressure checks to sprinkler package replacement, your dealer will ensure your irrigation equipment is in top condition and prepared for winter.

For more preventive maintenance tips, visit our website.