Thursday, July 31, 2014

You're Invited to Our Field Days | by Michelle Stolte

Would you love to learn more about center pivots? Come to one of the Valley® Irrigation Field Days!

Which was the last organization that hosted a center pivot irrigation field day? Maybe a university? Or an extension office? Maybe no one in your area?

We are guessing that a lot of you may selected the “no one” answer, which is one of the reasons why, in 2013, we created our first field day, which was held at a grower’s farm near Valley, NE. 

Another reason we created the field days was that we were seeing (and continue to see) an increased number of visitors, especially those from foreign countries, coming to our facilities for a tour. Those visitors also were asking to speak with local farmers while they were here – thus the birth of the Valley Irrigation field day.

Our field days this year are being held in two locations – Valley, NE, and right outside of Fargo, ND. 

The Valley field day is being held August 26 here at our own, brand new, Welcome & Training Center (I’m a little biased, but the center is pretty awesome!). This event will incorporate a factory tour and a grower panel where the visitors will be able to ask local growers  questions about their production. 

Our second field day will be held September 11 near Fargo. Unfortunately, the drive would be rather long to work a factory tour into this one. Instead, we are going to a grower’s farm, visiting one of his many Valley pivots, and hosting a grower panel there as well.

Are you thinking you may already have something on your calendar for those dates? Your're right! August 26 is the first day of the Farm Progress Show, so visitors can easily attend our field day and then make the short drive to Boone, IA, to attend Farm Progress. September 11 is the last day of the Big Iron Trade Show in Fargo, so visitors can attend Big Iron and then come to the Valley field day.

So, are you intrigued? Want to find out more? Check out our registration website at to see a more detailed agenda. If you are so inclined, feel free to sign up to join us on August 26 or September 11!

Michelle Stolte
Global Marketing Manager

Michelle has been at Valley Irrigation for more than 10 years and is finally no longer a newbie! She has spent her entire time at Valley in the Marketing Department (international and domestic) and loves every minute of it. Michelle enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband. She also likes reading, swing dancing (although she isn't really that good...), and warm weather.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Top 10 Reasons Being a Farmer Rocks

In case you ever need a reminder as to why you have the best job in the world as a farmer, check out the list that Fastline put together! (Think they forgot one? Add it in our comments section, or tells us your favorite part of being a farmer).

10. Outdoors – there’s nothing like the smell of fresh air, or even better, the smell of fresh cut hay!

9. Fun equipment – What other job do you get to drive large tractors, combines, sprayers, or anything else?

8. Weather – You always know the weather, even when you don’t want to.

7. You’re your own boss – Well besides Mother Nature – but she’s another story.

6. Job security – As long as there is land to farm and mouths to feed, farmers will have the most important job there is.

5. Farming communities – There is no community like a farm community. There are no strangers, just some people you might not know yet. When a farmer goes down, the whole town is there to pick up where he, or she, left off.

4. No need to clean – You have an excuse to be dirty and stay dirty. As Will Rogers so eloquently said, “What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.” Dirty nails show more than dirt, they show work ethic, discipline, and the most selfless workers the world knows.

3. Knowledge - Who else but a farmer can tell you more about the weather than a weather man, more about a tractor than a mechanic, and more about their land than anyone else.

2. The view- Your office has the best view of anyone – the outdoors, the fresh smells, and the earth beneath your feet. What’s better than that?

1. The best part? You feed the world. There are not many other people who can say that about their job.

Reprinted with permission from Fastline.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Save Energy and Money With Variable Frequency Drives | by Wade Sikkink

When growers look to invest in new products or technology for their farming operation, they generally expect to get one of two things out of the investment. It will either increase their output (yield) or it will reduce their operating costs. Either one is a good thing. When growers invest in irrigation equipment they tend to be focused on the yield side of the equation. Adding center pivot irrigation will give a grower higher, more reliable yields, and he can expect that equipment to pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time.

However, irrigation is not just about increasing yield. The equipment and pumping stations have operational costs, so growers also look for ways to reduce those costs. A great way to do that is by using Variable Frequency Drives on your electric pumps. A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) is an electronic device that can change the frequency of the supplied power to a pump or other electric motor. This means that the pump doesn’t always have to operate at the same speed, but can operate at different speeds depending on demand. 

Let me use an example to illustrate. Corner machines are a great way to add additional irrigated acres to your investment in a center pivot. A typical corner machine on a quarter-mile pivot can pick up as much as 25 acres. However, corner machines can have a big effect on your pumping system. The difference in flow between when the corner machine is extended vs. retracted can be 35 percent or more. That’s significant! If your pump only operates at one speed, and is sized correctly to provide the right amount of water when the corner machine is extended, then it’s going too fast and providing more pressure and flow than necessary when the corner machine is retracted. The bottom line is the pump is using more energy than necessary, increasing your operating costs.

Here’s where the VFD comes in. If there is a VFD controlling the pump, it can reduce the speed of the pump as the corner machine retracts and continue to provide only the needed pressure and flow. The pump is then running at a slower speed and using less energy; therefore, saving money!

The corner machine example I used above strongly illustrates the benefit of using a VFD for your pumping system, but there are many other applications that can benefit just as much from a VFD, including rolling terrain, Benders, VRI, multiple pivots on a single pump, etc.

Valley® Water Management is focused on designing and building the best possible pumping solutions for growers. We have partnered with Yaskawa™ Electric America to make Yaskawa VFDs available on our custom-engineered pump stations, which are available to Valley dealers for all their pumping applications. Yaskawa is the leader in VFD technology for agriculture applications and its VFD software includes the most control and protection features available on the market today.

In a future post, I’ll tell you about another new product from Valley Water Management called Drive Connect.

To learn more about Valley Water Management VFDs, visit our website.

Wade Sikkink
Director - Valley Water Management

Wade joined Valley Irrigation in 2008 as a Product Manager. He has spent a lot of time in the field working with dealers and growers on developing new products. In 2012, Wade changed roles to lead a new division within Valley Irrigation focused on pumping systems for center pivots called Valley Water Management. 

When he’s not working, Wade enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time with his wife and three children on their acreage in rural Nebraska.

Monday, July 21, 2014

25 Years of the Glorious World Wide Web | by Kelly Cox

Order a cake, grab your candles, and pick up a gift at the mall – it’s time to celebrate the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web!

Maybe I’m the only one who’s excited about this milestone, but it’s a pretty great achievement in technology, especially since so many didn’t believe it would survive. To commemorate this silver anniversary, I have created a list of five things that would be different today had the Web either not been born or had not survived.

1. People would still be forced to communicate in person. All. The. Time. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin…Email…would not be possible without the assistance of the web. Where would we put our photographs? Oh, yeah, in a photo album. How would we share our crazy cat stories? I guess over the phone, in a handwritten letter, or (gulp) face to face.

2. Cursive would still be taught in grade school. I don’t have kids yet, but there are rumors floating around that teaching cursive in school has died, and it makes me sad because it was a huge challenge to overcome! Those handwritten letters about the cats? They would need some really great penmanship to adequately tell those stories. 

3. Emoticons would not be available to help you show other people how you’re feeling. Nonexistent would be the days where someone could rely on a nice smilie face attached to an email or instant message to help show the person on the other end that they weren’t mad about shredding that all important document; an actual facial smile would have to be shown to save that shredder from having a panic attack! 

4. A phone would just be a phone. Not a place to send people messages via text, not a place to play Minecraft at 2 a.m. and definitely not a place to Pin, Share, Like, Follow, and all those good things. Yes, my friends – a phone would just be something through which one person talks to the other…with their voices.

5. A “gamer” would have a whole different meaning. Checkers, anyone? How about a rousing game of croquet?

The question then becomes: are we lucky to not have to worry about these five things, or worse off? That’s up to you to decide.

But, we are lucky to be living in a time when anyone can literally talk with someone else who is thousands of miles away! We are fortunate to have the ability to send a picture of our loved ones to other loved ones within seconds and with one click or touch of a button! And it is remarkable to possess the technology to be able to perform life-saving surgeries while not having to be in the same room, or country, as the patient. These are reasons to celebrate.

Want to actually participate in the celebrations? Visit!

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, July 17, 2014

Middle East Dealerships Provide Unique Service Offerings | by Adrian Cliffe

In the Middle East market, we have a lot of large-scale projects with investors. Some of these investors have limited experience when it comes to managing large-scales farms. When that happens, the irrigation equipment is often overlooked and not correctly maintained. 
A large-scale farm project in the desert.

This type of equipment neglect can mean the return on investment is drawn-out and can lead to a lot of unhappy investors. 

To address this, a lot of Middle East Valley® dealerships are offering 24-hour service contracts. The dealerships have full-time, trained employees based on the farms to respond quickly to any equipment issues that may arise.

The Middle East dealerships also offer support to all farmers. 
In the Middle East, flow meters are often not sold with systems. Therefore, customers don’t know if their pumps are applying the correct amount of water for the crops. 

Our dealers offer a solution using a digital flow meter. They visit the farmers monthly, quarterly, or even yearly to update the farmer on a pump's performance. 

This all leads to offering better support to the end user and making sure that Valley equipment is always working at its most efficient. It also creates a win-win partnership for everyone and happy investors.

Adrian Cliffe
Territory Sales Manager for Egypt, Turkey, Oman, and UAE

Adrian has been working for Valmont
® Irrigation for more than 3 years. He is an agricultural engineer and has worked for the largest suppliers of machinery in Ireland. He enjoys designing and manufacturing farm machinery. Adrian was a member of the Middle East hurling team that won the international championship last year. He also plays soccer and likes going to the movies and relaxing at the pool. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is Declining Soil Quality Affecting Our Food? | by Shannon Peterson

Consumers don't think much about soil when they are buying food. Farmers, on the other hand, know that soil plays an essential role in crops and yields. 

But does the quality of the soil actually affect the food we eat?

Author Daniel A. Marano examined this possibility in his article "Nature's Bounty: Rich Dirt, Poor Dirt," which was actually published in Psychology Today earlier this year. He notes that "the calcium content of broccoli averaged 12.9 milligrams per gram of plant tissue in 1950 ... but only 4.4 mg per gram by 2003."

Is it possible that "just when we want more from our food, we are getting less, and the declining quality of soil may be the root of the problem?"

It's an article worth checking out because the issue may continue to crop up. You can read the entire article here: Nature's Bounty: Rich Dirt, Poor Dirt

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. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Smart Irrigation Month Helps Growers Maximize Water-Use Efficiency

Valley® is joining the celebration of Smart Irrigation Month by helping growers maximize water-use efficiency. 

Smart Irrigation Month is a public awareness campaign to promote efficient water use and highlights effective practices and innovative technologies to:

  • Increase crop yield per acre. 
  • Apply water and nutrient inputs more precisely for improved results with no waste. 
  • Minimize runoff and top soil erosion. 
  • Help protect and preserve water supplies for today and the future. 
Center pivot and linear irrigation machines deliver exactly the right amount of water at the right time. Efficient irrigation: 
  • Precisely applies water and nutrients to minimize evaporation, runoff and waste. 
  • Generates more crop per drop. 
  • Adjust watering automatically to account for rain and other conditions. 
  • Minimizes overwatering 
Join the cause and help protect our global water resources. Every drop counts! Learn more at

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Crop Insurance Approved for Pivot-Irrigated Rice | by Kelly Downing

It has taken a lot of time and work (mostly by other people), but last week we finally got some good news in the pivot rice world. The USDA’s Risk Management Agency board of directors approved the application to provide crop insurance coverage for producers who want to grow rice with pivots. This means that by as early as next spring producers will be able to insure their pivot-irrigated rice crop. This decision comes at an opportune time, as weakening corn and soybean prices and decent rice price trends are increasing the interest in rice among farmers.

The real winners, in my opinion, are growers who want the flexibility to incorporate rice into their other crop rotations. This will make it more feasible to grow rice in non-traditional locations like upland, sloping, and sandy soils. It is particularly significant now that the new Farm Bill places increased emphasis on crop insurance as the backbone of its programs. More and more lenders are insisting on crop insurance as a prerequisite for funding operating loans, and this helps make that happen.
John Taylor’s rice field in Arkansas.

The best news is that this gives farmers another tool to increase their efficiency, sustainability, and profitability. The reduction in water use, pumping requirements, and greenhouse gas emissions will not only make their operations more profitable, but also more ecologically sound and sustainable — “green,” in today’s parlance.

The initial rollout of this program will be in Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas, places where there has been interest and research, as well as areas where water is, or will become, a limiting factor in production. I am hopeful that, as the program grows and matures, other areas will be added.

Our participation in this effort has been very interesting. It was never about selling pivots; rather, the effort has always been to define and offer to farmers the tools to increase efficiency and profit, while maintaining their ability to keep farming in a sustainable manner. Adding rice to a corn/soybean/cotton rotation (or some variation) can also help manage the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds that is rapidly growing throughout the country.

I just looked at the blog post I wrote back in April. Wow, have things changed since then! At that time, our local soil conditions were exceptionally dry, after a long, cold, dry winter. I was worried that there would be real problems getting a crop out of the ground. Of course now, at the beginning of July, many people are begging for the rain (and associated violent storms) to stop. It has turned into a relatively cool, very wet spring; so much so that some growers in my area have had to replant twice—once due to frost and a second time due to flood.

For those who have escaped the disasters, however, growing conditions have been quite good, and many of the crops I see in my travels around the Midwest and upper Delta look excellent.

Weather is one of the vagaries of farming that we try to manage, but cannot control. I hope that things go well for you this summer, and I look forward to checking in again with further updates.

Be safe, enjoy the summer, and stay in touch. Let us know how things are going where you are.

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, July 3, 2014

Investing in Agricultural Technology | by Andy Smith

It is hard to open any agricultural trade publication and not find reference to the topics of variable rate technology, positioning systems, and a multitude of software applications. For those of us who have been around awhile, it is amazing to see how technology has impacted every facet of our lives. In agriculture, this has certainly been the case. Imagine if 40 years ago, you told your dad that in the year 2014, we would be placing seed with sub-inch accuracy with no hands on the steering wheel? Times have certainly changed.

This rapid advancement has been very hard to keep up with, both mentally and financially. For every success story in precision ag, I hear an accompanying horror story. The path to adopting precision ag can be both frustrating and rewarding. Without a doubt, the tools are getting better, but it is still important to use caution when considering investments in ag technology. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. What is the track record of the product? No matter what, it is important to ask how any product has performed during testing or deployment in the field. It is even better to get some references that can be consulted prior to purchase. With new products this can be tough, but there should be some proof available to suggest the product performs as promised.
  2. What problem does the product solve? I have seen several technology offerings that are simply distractions. Let’s face it, there are a lot of neat things available and while the “cool factor” is indeed something to consider, technology is an investment. It has to improve yield, efficiency, and/or profit to be considered an investment.
  3. Is the supplier/provider a good partner? Technology companies have come and gone. It seems like every day there is a new player entering the ag technology market. Trust and stability are still excellent qualities. Everyone has problems from time to time, but not everyone has solutions. Make sure you can get help when you need it.
Farming is one of the most challenging occupations. The insertion of technology in farming has created both opportunity and complexity. The challenge is turning complexity into opportunity. At Valley® we are committed to the irrigation technology challenge and have been since 1954. The difference between then and now is the focus. The opportunities for improvement today are heavily influenced by data and electronics. But we haven’t forgotten that our core challenge is to use every available technology to deliver irrigation to the field where it is needed, when it is needed, as efficiently as possible.

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.