Thursday, February 27, 2014

America’s Largest Indoor Farm Show | by Cole Fredrick

During the week of February 10, there was a show in Louisville, KY, called the National Farm Machinery Show. This just so happens to be the largest indoor show in the United States! It also happens to be one of my favorite shows to attend.

This year was especially a good year because we got to focus on technology. We had a great showing of Valley® representatives, including all the local dealers who helped, and we had an impressive booth featuring two new products, BaseStation3™ and SoilPro™ 1200. We were also able to display the BaseStation3 and VRI in the booth, allowing everyone to really see the advantages.

While I was there, I was asked to be part of a panel discussing Variable Rate Irrigation. We talked about where we are with this technology and where we are headed. The panel of three people and about 100 audience members had an open discussion on VRI. It was a great opportunity to promote this technology and really get it out there in front of the public.

One of the best things about going to farm shows is getting to work closely with dealers and customers. The amount that a person can learn from them is amazing. We also bring back new ideas and thoughts from the people using our products.

Along with all of these great things, there is also the food…and, by food, I mean ice cream! Almost all shows have some sort of ice cream stand that makes the show worth going to! There are also all kinds of the other great eating establishments at the show.

Being able to attend these shows allows a person to see the new technologies coming out and what companies are striving toward in the future. You really get to see where the future of agriculture is going.

Many of you may not have made it to the National Farm and Machinery Show, but if you happen to be in Memphis, TN, this weekend (February 28 and March 1), Valley Irrigation will be at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show. So feel free to stop by, say hello and see where the future of irrigation is going!

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, February 24, 2014

Thinking Outside the Circle, Part 1 | by John Kastl

Many growers today are asking how they can become more efficient within their operation. With lower crop prices this year, that question is more important than ever. As many of you know, center pivot irrigation is a great way to increase your yields and ensure a good crop year in and year out, without depending on Mother Nature to provide the right amount of moisture at the right times. But for growers already taking advantage of center pivot irrigation, are there additional ways to become more efficient?

Fortunately, Valley® offers a number of products growers can use to irrigate additional acres on fields they already own. Today, let’s take a look at the Bender30™, Bender160™, and DropSpan™ to see how they can help you increase the productivity of your operation.

Valley Bender products allow a center pivot to “bend” at any drive unit on the pivot, allowing the machine to wrap around in-field obstacles. For example, if you have a feed yard or farmstead in the middle of the field, a Bender will allow your center pivot to wrap around the obstacle and irrigate those acres behind the obstacle.

Valley Benders include an exclusive Speed-Up Timer. This is important because your sprinkler package is designed to provide maximum uniformity in non-bending or “straight machine” mode. When the machine is bending, the bending spans are covering less area, increasing water application depth. The Speed-Up timer minimizes this effect by increasing the speed of the machine while it’s bending. Some growers prefer to shut off the sprinklers on the stopped spans. Your dealer can design a custom shutoff package for the Bender on your machine.

Of course, Valley Benders operate automatically so you don’t have to spend time monitoring your machine’s operation.

The Valley Bender30 can bend the machine up to 30 degrees in either or both directions, allowing you to pick up as many as 6 acres per side. The Bender30 is simply a special tower box that can be easily retrofitted onto any Valley 8000 or 7000 series drive unit. It’s also available on PolySpan® machines, so even if you have corrosive water, you can take advantage of the benefits.

The Valley Bender160 allows your machine up to 160 degrees in either or both directions for up to 32 additional acres per side. Unlike others, the Bender160 uses a toothed belt during bending to constantly monitor the bending angle. This ensures the machine doesn’t over-bend. It also allows you to control your end gun during bending with two end gun cams built into the Bender160 tower box.

Maybe you have a rectangular field, a small area at the edge of the field you just can’t reach with an end gun, or just some grain bins near the edge of the field. The Valley DropSpan offers an excellent solution for those situations. 

The DropSpan is designed to “drop off” one or more spans from the end of the machine, allowing you to irrigate behind obstacles at the edge of the field. While you do have to manually drop the spans, the process only takes 15 minutes and doesn’t require any special tools or equipment. The DropSpan is designed to automatically re-align with the dropped spans, making it very easy to re-attach them.

Read "Thinking Outside the Circle, Part 2to find out what Valley Corner options can do for you.

John Kastl
Product Manager - Equipment

John joined the Valley Irrigation Engineering Department in 2000 after having spent 11 years at General Electric Aircraft Engines. Today, he manages the equipment products for Valley (center pivots, corners, and gearbox, to name a few), helping develop the next generation of Valley Irrigation machines. John enjoys photography, home renovation, and travel. On his third birthday, John watched the first moon landing!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Welcome to California | by Ben Hirschfeld

The Valley booth at World Ag Expo.
I have spent most of my life in Nebraska. I grew up on a row crop farm with not much in my world besides corn and soybean farming. All or most of the sections of land were in squares of 160 acres or rectangles of 80. Year in and year out, everything pretty much stayed the same.

California farming is a TOTALLY different story. I see sections of land that are in triangles, squares, and other odd shapes around bodies of water, cities, mountains, etc. I am seeing so many different crops. There are trees in the fields! That is crazy to a small town, pretty sheltered, Nebraska kid.

However, I also see quite a few similarities between the two states. Being at the World Ag Expo and speaking to so many people helped me realize this.

Whether a farmer is from Nebraska, California, Texas, Idaho, Nevada, Mexico, or ANY other place, there is one constant. Every one of them is striving to improve his (or her) operation. Some are trying to improve yield. Some are trying to improve management practices. Some are striving to conserve water.

Just like every other business in the world, the business of farming is constantly changing. Sometimes, farmers are changing on their own because they want to. Much of the time, they are changing because they HAVE to. The ones that carry on from generation to generation are the ones that are constantly striving to improve.

Ben Hirschfeld
Advanced Technology Order Manager

Ben has been with Valley Irrigation since 2008. He grew up on a row crop farm in Nebraska, and has been involved in agriculture ever since. Ben, a die-hard Cornhusker fan, lives in Omaha with his wife, Carolyn, and his children Abe and Mia, and enjoys chasing his kids around to all their different events.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Celebrating Innovation in Agricultural Engineering - Beauty in Simplicity | by Andy Smith

Over the last several years, I have become very involved with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). Founded in 1907 and comprised of more than 8,000 professionals from more than 100 countries, ASABE is an educational and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of this unique engineering profession. 

As part of this endeavor, ASABE sponsors the AE50 awards that recognize product innovations in the areas of agricultural, food, and biological systems. This year, the Valley® SoilPro™ 100 earned an AE50 and was the only irrigation-related product to do so.

The SoilPro 100’s beauty is in its simplicity. It is built primarily to provide a low-cost method to help guide irrigation decisions in developing markets. It uses a simple array of components that help the grower understand current field conditions through very simple messages. In an industry that has become obsessed with precision and complexity, it is often easy to overlook some basic tools that help us understand and manage the physical relationships that exist between water, soil, and plants. The SoilPro 100 gets the job done without a lot of bells and whistles and is easy to understand.

My colleague Scott Mauseth, the developer behind Valley SoilPro 100, asked me if I would accept the AE50 award in his place due to a travel conflict. It was a real honor to accept the award on behalf of Valley and Scott before such a prestigious group of professionals. But the real reward for me was being reminded of a couple of things that are easy to lose sight of:

  1. There are basic, physical relationships that govern the science of irrigation.
  2. There is always a role for simple solutions that work.

At Valley, we have embraced and incorporated a variety of technology into our products. In fact, I don’t think there is another industry in existence with more applied science in use than there is in agriculture. Telematics, sensors, GPS, GIS, and variable rate technology are just a few innovations that have contributed to the rapid advancement of productivity on the farm. But even as complex as some of the agricultural engineering challenges are today, I really appreciate the fact that ASABE recognizes the value the SoilPro 100 brings to the market in a very simple, effective, and easy-to-use package. After all, there really is beauty in simplicity.

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, February 13, 2014

Professing our Love for Farmers

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so we asked our blogging team and some of our partners to tell us what they love about farming and farmers.

"I love farmers because they are the epitome of the REAL American cowboy! They get to play with tractors, combines, and animals; and wear jeans and boots to work every day. Days are long and the nights are short, but without them we would be in a world of hurt! Thanks to all our farmer friends!"
 Matt Ondrejko
Vice President Global Marketing
Global Digital Marketing Manager
Global Irrigation Specialist

"I love the freedom of farming. Being able to be your own boss."
 Cole Fredrick 
Product/Project Manager

"Though I have been blessed to travel and fall in love with many places around the globe, I chose to settle in our small, rural, Midwest town. I credit much of that decision to the farming roots that our community was originally built on. I feel that it is because of those roots that most in our town still acknowledge family, hard work, dedication, and a commitment to our community as the things we treasure most. Having spent a lot of time at a few of our local farms while growing up and into my adult years, I feel lucky that many of my favorite memories revolve around time spent in the fields around nature and animals. And,  I laugh at some of my funniest memories also made on those properties… running frantically from momma cows while learning about their protective nature, the face of the farmer when I ground every gear on his tractor while learning how to drive it, having to be pulled out of quick mud by a 4-wheeler when we thought arrowhead hunting in the creek was a great idea just hours after flood waters receded, and many more.

"These experiences have all implanted a love of nature and exploration that I hope to pass on to my son as he grows, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other reasons why I love farmers. I love them for the gorgeous scenery they provide to us when traveling our roads and for the amazingly rich scents we get to enjoy after they till their land. I love them for the education they provide to our youth through their open houses, tours, and programs; and for the fresh foods they bring to us in our farmer markets and grocery stores. Finally, I love them, because they are the backbone of our nation. About 2 percent of our population grows and harvests – through back-breaking work, frigid cold, and dangerous heat – the resources that the remaining 98 percent of us get to enjoy at ease. This Valentine’s, I’d like to thank our farmers, for being 'ours!'"
 Vanessa Z. Hargrave
Director of Marketing, Advantage PressurePro

"I love the fact that growers are taking water conservation more seriously. Thank you, growers, all around the world!"
 Michelle Stolte
Global Marketing Manager

"Farmers are the unsung heroes, the true superstars of this great nation. They get up before dawn, work till dusk, and spend their entire lives feeding the world without expecting the praise they so rightfully deserve. I do what I do because I love the farming industry and the privilege of working with the most amazing people on the planet!" 

 Julie Bushell
Director of Sales and Marketing, Paige Electric 

"I LOVE my grandparents – they have spent their lives as farmers in farming communities – and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

"I love that farming connects people around the world and provides common ground for people who may have nothing else that makes them similar.

"I love that the cacao plant is harvested year round (Yay for chocolate!)."
 Brooke Stover
Global Marketing Coordinator

"I personally love interfacing with farmers because I consider them to be the ultimate entrepreneurs, and being a lifelong entrepreneur gives me a connection to and respect for what they do for the market, our economy, quality of life, and especially for their families. Growers are straight-talking, no nonsense-taking people who are grounded in basic, old-school values like honesty and integrity. When a grower trusts you to do what you say you are going to do, they are literally betting the farm on the predicted outcome. With that trust comes the responsibility and then the appreciation of 'getting it right for them.'"
 Bruce A Moeller
CEO, AquaSpy 

"What do I 'love' about farmers or farming? Well, I 'love' how we in business and marketing force these tortured connections just to get a blog post! Seriously, I do LOVE one farmer—my lovely, wonderful wife. In addition, for me there is a never-ending fascination (yes, I might even stretch it to “strong friendship”) with the beauty and wonder of life that is repeated every year in my fields. To see a bunch of shriveled little seeds dropped into the soil and emerge, then grow into towering plants is a true miracle. I feel a deep affinity for this process, which produces our food and fiber. It reminds me constantly how richly the Lord has blessed us."
 Kelly Downing
Global Irrigation Specialist

"I admittedly didn’t grow up on a farm, but I have grown to absolutely love farming through my experiences working for Valley Irrigation. Farming is the heart of humanity’s existence; without it, we wouldn’t have food, clothing, or livelihoods. I love farming because it literally keeps our hearts alive."
 Kelly Cox
Global Digital Marketing Manager

"I love that so many family farmers have persevered. It breaks my heart to drive by abandoned windbreaks where you just know a farmstead once stood."
 Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valley Is Even Better at 60 | by Kelly Cox

A lot of things are really good at 50 years, but are even better at 60. For instance, wine. Or cheese (well, that may be stretching it). The same can be said of a strong company. 

This year, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Valley® Irrigation, which has remained the leader in precision irrigation for its entire existence. Let’s reflect on a few of the many great milestones Valley has accomplished through the past 60 years:

1954 Valley introduced the first center pivot irrigation machine to the irrigation market.
1960s Valley began to hot dip galvanize their center pivots as a continuous improvement effort.
1970s The overseas markets opened a new world to Valley Irrigation, thus forming Valmont International. The first linear and corner machines were also introduced.
1980s The Valmonitor was introduced, opening doors to the remote control and management technology sector. 
1990s The Valley ControlsTM Pro Panel and Valley Controls Base Station were first introduced to the market, increasing pivot control from the panel and from home. Valley PolySpan® also made its first appearance in the ‘90s.
2000s A plethora of new technology peppered the center pivot irrigation marketplace: Valley Tracker remote communication product line; GPS Position and GPS Guidance; Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI); Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS); and BaseStation3.

To help commemorate this great achievement, as well as to help celebrate all of the milestones and thought leadership that Valley has brought to the agriculture industry over the years, we are going to be taking our social media followers behind the scenes at Valley, as well as participate in the well-known Thursday social media activity Throwback Thursday (#TBT, for those who are familiar).

Each month, we will share a new story of a Valley employee, showcasing the people behind the pivot. As they happen, we will also post about Valley employees who retire this year, sharing their story and congratulating them on their tenure at Valley Irrigation.

Each Thursday (Throwback Thursday - #TBT), we will share a historical picture that helps craft the story of Valley Irrigation. 

So, what can YOU do to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Valley Irrigation? Engage with us on:
...and, of course, on this blog! Please share and Retweet our posts on your social media channels, so that we can collaboratively share the story that is “Valley.”

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Looking for Funding Assistance for Irrigation Equipment?

After water efficiency, the most common question about new irrigation technology is related to cost and financing. Marcos Perez, an engineer with the Natural Resources ConservationService (NRCS), recently discussed finances opportunities for center pivot irrigation equipment through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“To qualify for financing, an applicant must be engaged in agricultural production, forestry management, or have an interest in the associated operation,” Perez said. “In addition toapplicant eligibility, the land represented in the application must be agricultural, non-industrial private forestland, or other land on which agricultural products, livestock, or forest-related products are produced.”

Available EQIP financing varies by year. In 2013, a center pivot longer than 600 feet could have been financed at $35.31 per linear foot, while a span less than 600 feet would have been financed at $29.47 per linear foot.

Local NRCS offices  are now accepting applications for 2014 EQIP funding. 

While funding is not guaranteed, applications are prioritized by the value and environmental benefit expected from the improvement, Perez says. For example, applicants looking to improve or even install center pivot irrigation equipment might want to highlight how the purchase would improve irrigation water management, such as reducing water use by transitioning from a flood to center pivot irrigation operation.

To learn more about EQUIP, check out these resources:

A portion of this content was published in PivotPoint - The California Grower, 2013