Monday, September 29, 2014

A Day in the Life of the American Farmer

Meet farmer Gary Hiam of Page, ND. He farms a fourth-generation farm with his four boys and his wife. 

We invite you to follow Gary through a day in the life of the American farmer.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bringing Farm Life to the City | by Shannon Peterson

We're bringing farm life to the big city through our partnership with the Omaha Children's Museum. Families can explore the world of agriculture and learn where their food comes from in the Once Upon a Farm exhibit opening Oct. 18.

We began installing a miniature Valley® center pivot at the museum Wednesday, so children will be able to learn about water and irrigation. And, Valley Authorized Provider Senninger Irrigation is creating a cool sprinkler exhibit. The museum will offer daily programming on different farm topics. 

We can't wait! If you're planning to be in the Omaha area over the next several months be sure to check out the exhibit.

Meanwhile, we wanted to share this special letter from Omaha Children's Museum Executive Director Lindy Hoyer:
Omaha Children's Museum
Executive Director Lindy Hoyer

I'm a small town girl raising a city kid. My worst fear as a child was to end up living on my cousin's farm bailing hay and milking cows before school each day. 

My regret as a mother of a city kid is not having my child spend as much time on the farm as I did growing up. Even so, my son has spent enough time on a farm to have actually seen how milk is gathered and produced, understands that the meat we have in the freezer came from the cow he saw on the farm and that most of the vegetables we eat were grown in the ground somewhere.

Omaha Children's Museum has partnered with multiple members of the agricultural industry in Nebraska to present our next community-engaged exhibit Once Upon a Farm. Our shared vision in creating this exhibit is to help the kids growing up in an urban environment make stronger connections to the origins of their food before it makes it to the shelves of the grocery store or farmers market. 

With agriculture as a leading industry in our state, it is vital for us to help our kids understand where their future lives will intersect with the people who work and manage our farms and ranches. Kids don't have to dream about milking their own cow or harvesting a field to find themselves a role in the agricultural industry.

We look forward to exploring the vast world of agriculture with our visitors this winter. Plan to spend some good, quality time on the farm with us and help us continue to narrate the story of Once Upon a Farm."

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, September 22, 2014

Real Partnership Between Growers and Dealers in Wisconsin

John Wallendal says his family grows “anything people will pay us for.” Potatoes, sweet corn, snap beans, soybeans, forage corn, peas, cabbage, carrots, alfalfa… you get the picture. And it’s all irrigated.

Quick to make a joke and even quicker to talk of his family, Wallendal takes his relationships seriously so when he says he considers Scott Polzin and North Central Irrigation (NCI) partners in the family business, that’s a real compliment.

“We've been working with North Central Irrigation for over 40 years,” says Wallendal. “We consider them to be our partner. It’s a win-win as we see great value in each other.”

Wallendal’s father was one of the first irrigators in the Grand Marsh area, and Wallendal says the family counts on NCI to keep the farm technology up todate, when it makes economic sense.

“If an upgrade can make us money or save time – which is the same thing, really – we implement it,” Wallendal says.

For example, the farm will use 100 percent Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) next year. Wallendal and his son Eric actively manage the irrigation machines and soil probes, while daughter-in-law Megan writes the VRI prescriptions.

“VRI is only as good as the delivery system,” Wallendal states. “If the system is down due tomalfunctions, it’s useless. Repairs must be done in a timely fashion, and Scott Polzin of NCI and his crew respond quickly. Depending on the situation, we call, text, or email them, and they’re very responsive.”

Wallendal tries to do some repairs and maintenance himself.

“If I spend an hour on it and can’t fix it, I call,” he says. “It’s all about cost. What’s the cost of calling them in over the total acres and yield? It’s a simple decision and I take pride in that.”What’s more important is the trust factor.

“Technology is great, but family is the most important thing of all,” Wallendal says. “You need people you can trust working with you and it’s why we consider NCI family.”

Reprinted from Valley PivotPoint magazine, Fall 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pivot Irrigation, Not Furrows, Is Most Economical for Delta | by Bonnie A.Coblentz

Written by and reprinted with permission from Mississippi State University Ag Communications

STONEVILLE, Miss. - Pivot irrigation is no longer a common sight across the Delta, but experts say this equipment remains a viable and efficient way to water crops.

“I would like to see pivots in the Delta,” said Jason Krutz, irrigation specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “They deliver water more efficiently, so if we have an aquifer problem, which everything indicates we do, they would go a long way toward helping address it.”

In recent years, Delta producers have been removing pivot irrigation from their farmland and replacing it with furrow-irrigation systems after their fields were land-formed. Most pivot systems in the Delta were installed 25 to 30 years ago and were designed to conservatively meet the estimated daily water needs of cotton.

More recently, pivots have been designed to meet the maximum daily water requirements of all crops grown in the Delta under the most extreme weather conditions.

“Many producers have a pivot on one field and furrow irrigation in an adjacent field, and they have a higher yield in the field with furrow irrigation,” Krutz said. “They have higher yields because furrow irrigation can keep up with the water demands of cotton, but these older pivots were not set up to keep up with the maximum water demands of corn and soybeans.”

Spray nozzles on pivots can be checked and replaced, and the entire system can be revamped to provide a higher rate of water. Cost-share packages are available to help producers make this happen, but in the Delta, many choose to abandon this method of overhead irrigation.

Krutz would like to see this trend reversed.

“Furrow irrigation is about 55 percent efficient, which means for every inch of water I apply, only one-half reaches the target, which is below the soil surface but not deeper than 3 feet,” he said. “Pivots are about 85 to 90 percent efficient, so for every inch of water, almost nine-tenths of an inch reaches the rooting zone.”

Furrow irrigation uses a collapsible pipe with holes punched in it. A pipe placed in each row allows water to flow down the furrows. While polypipe is not expensive, and maintenance is simple, the ground may need to be sloped so that water flows across the entire field.This dirt work can make the cost of setting up furrow irrigation as expensive as the cost of installing a pivot-irrigation system.

Larry Falconer, Extension agricultural economist at the MSU Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, has included these costs in planning budgets available to producers.

“In some cases, the dirt work can exceed the cost of the pivot equipment,” Falconer said. “We calculated that installing a half-mile pivot costs about $400 per irrigated acre. If you assume it will cost $1.35 per cubic yard for dirt work, installing furrow irrigation will be more expensive than installing pivot irrigation if you have to move more than 350-400 yards per acre.”

Falconer said installation costs for pivot irrigation is lowest on square fields, but furrow irrigation is better suited for irregularly shaped fields.

It also costs less to operate pivot irrigation than to furrow irrigate.

“If you start with a half-mile pivot-irrigation system, total costs to irrigate with 7.5 inches of water per acre are just under $99 an acre,” Falconer said. “A comparable rollout pipe system would use 13 inches of water per acre and have a total cost of $105 per acre. You’d be pumping about 60 percent more water because the furrow system is less efficient.”
Lyle Pringle, associate agricultural engineer and irrigation researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, explained the efficiency losses in both systems.

“You have to put on more water with furrow irrigation because it has to run from the upper end of the field to the bottom end of the field,” Pringle said. “To get a good irrigation on the bottom third of the field on a lot of our soils, you have to run some water off to give more time for water to soak in on the bottom. You don’t have that much runoff with a pivot.”

Pivot irrigation sprays water over the tops of the plants, and some is lost to evaporation. With furrow irrigation, some is lost into the soil as the water percolates deeper than the rooting zones. But furrow irrigation has some benefits.

“With furrow irrigation, you can water every acre,” Pringle said. “With a pivot, you generally have to leave out the corners. Since most systems are electrical, when pivot systems go down, they can be more difficult to fix and they can get stuck in the field. Downtime needs to be minimized with pivots, because they are not designed to play catch-up.”

Pringle would like to see existing, older pivots renozzled to more efficiently meet the needs of crops during the highest water demand. Wells should be designed and maintained to deliver the designed flow for the life of the system.

“I believe a well-managed, well-designed pivot can make just as much yield as a furrow,” he said. “Furrow irrigation efficiencies can be improved with better water management, but inherently will be less than a well-maintained pivot system. And as water continues to be pumped from the aquifer and we have less and less in reserve, pivots make good sense.”

By Bonnie A. Coblentz, MSU AgCommunications.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weather Stole the Spotlight at Fall Farm Shows | by Shannon Peterson

The fall farm shows are a big deal for manufacturers and growers alike. Shows like Farm Progress and Husker Harvest Days give the Valley team a chance to connect with growers, see what other ag companies are developing and reconnect with peers from other companies.

Growers who attend can talk to Valley representatives and dealers about new and existing products, and peruse other booths to gather information and ideas.

Plus, the shows include great food, such as homemade ice cream, steak sandwiches and turkey legs, free stuff from bags to hats; livestock; concerts; and drawings for iPads, end guns and cars. Whew!

But this year, all that was overshadowed by the weather. Everyone was glued to their smartphones, watching the radar as storms swirled around and over Boone, Iowa, and Wood River, Neb. There was rain and wind. Lightning shut down Farm Progress on its final day.

And then there was mud. Lots and lots of mud. Muddy parking lots, muddy booths, muddy roads, muddy khakis. Cars and trucks got stuck in the mud; four-wheelers and bigger trucks pushed them out of the mud.

Rain and mud shut down Husker Harvest on Wednesday. Thursday brought more rain and cold temperatures, but many visitors. A Valley Product Manager said he was so busy he didn't leave the booth all day. Meanwhile, one show attendee said his visit was the worst three hours of his life – that’s pretty telling, coming from a farmer!

In the end, we all muddled through, made some connections and generated ideas for next year’s show.

But we’re all hoping for a little sun at the upcoming Sunbelt Ag Expo, Oct. 14-15 in Moultrie, Ga. See you there!

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, September 11, 2014

End-of-Season Checklist | by Nicole Alvarez

This piece was written for and published by Senninger Irrigation, and reprinted with permission.

This year’s irrigation season is ending for many farmers across the western hemisphere. Several are already working in their combines and reaping the fruits of their labor.

It’s tempting to forget about pivots and just focus on getting crops out of the field and into a bin during harvest. Yet this is one of the best times to evaluate sprinkler packages to make sure your pivots are in top shape and ready for another growing season. This check helps prevent unwanted surprises and helps ensure crops will be irrigated according to schedule. 

We suggest you take a look at this end-of-season checklist for a quick overview of the things you should take care of:

1. Get Your Sprinkler Package Chart
Find a copy of the sprinkler package chart. This contains the location of all sprinklers and pressure regulators along the center pivot. It will also include detailed information for each sprinkler’s nozzle size or flow rate. You’ll need it a little later when you’re walking along your pivot verifying sprinkler location and noting potential issues.

2. Flush Your System
Check the main pipe running from the well to the pivot itself for any potential leaks. Next, remove the sand trap on your pivot and flush the entire system for several minutes. (Make sure the system is not under pressure when you remove the sand trap!) This will flush out any debris or foreign materials that may plug the sprinkler heads or pressure regulators.

Sprinklers on the first few spans are particularly prone to plugging due to their smaller nozzles size so we recommend a good system flush at least once a year.

3. Check System Pressures
Using a pressure gauge, verify your pressure at the pump, pivot point, and at the end of the pivot. Make sure you operate the center pivot  at the design pressure.

Pressure should be at least 5 PSI above the pressure regulator rating. If you have a 10 PSI pressure regulator, your pressure gauge should read a minimum of 15 PSI. Compare the numbers to the design pressure in your sprinkler package chart to make sure everything matches.

Note: It’s best to check pressure with the pivot parked in the same location!

4. Check System Flows 
Sometimes farmers discover that the nozzles along each span do not correspond with what the printout indicates. This is why it’s important to keep your chart on hand

Check the system flow rates by comparing each sprinkler to the corresponding outlet on the chart. Each sprinkler’s nozzle and flow rate should match the number on the sprinkler package chart. If the nozzles are wrong, you may be over or under watering.

If you have a flow meter, verify that it’s taking the correct measurements. Solving issues like a flow meter not receiving a signal or unstable flow rates might require a little detective work on your part using your flow meter installation and troubleshooting guide.

5. Evaluate Sprinkler’s Wetted Patterns
Visually inspect all sprinklers for potential damage, lost parts, and for consistency and uniformity in their distribution patterns. Assure that sprinkler overlap is sufficient.

Disassemble any sprinklers with poor distribution patterns or overlap and check for plugging or defective parts. Sprinklers can wear out and will stop rotating – or rotate out of control. Check sprinkler deflector pads to ensure they do not have a build-up of materials that could affect the distribution pattern or flow rate. You might also notice kinked or damaged drop hoses that need fixing.

Sprinkler issues can result in extra water being applied is some areas and insufficient water being applied in others. This affects water application uniformity and can reduce yields.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, depending on the location of the problem along the pivot pipeline, the economic impact of a single sprinkler problem can be significant in the amount of yield reduction it causes. This is especially true for sprinklers on the outer 30 percent of the center pivot.

If You Notice Something’s Off….
Hopefully, you won’t notice any runoff or a lack of uniformity while inspecting your sprinklers, but if you do:
  • Go back to your sprinkler package chart and check the nozzle sizes and placement of sprinklers that are showing problems – they may be incorrectly installed.
  • Consider evaluating your tillage practices to enhance infiltration and decrease runoff.
  • Evaluate your system and consider whether a new sprinkler package would be beneficial. Select a sprinkler device that irrigates with low application intensity over a large diameter, and creates relatively large droplets that can combat wind-drift and evaporation.
  • If you want to renozzle your system, check with your local power company for possible incentives when you switch to lower pressure systems.

Senninger® Irrigation
A Valley® Irrigation Authorized Provider

Founded in 1963, Senninger Irrigation, Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of agricultural irrigation products. These include sprinklers, spray nozzles and pressure regulators. Senninger products are made in the United States and sold worldwide through qualified dealers. Products can be found in farms, nurseries, greenhouses, open fields, as well as mining operations. Senninger is dedicated to low pressure, high performance irrigation solutions. 

This post was written by Nicole Alvarez, the technical writer for Senninger.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Introducing Root Demand Irrigation™ | by Shannon Peterson

Valmont® Irrigation has launched a new brand – Root Demand Irrigation™. RDI™ is a sister company to Valley® Irrigation, so I want to introduce you to this innovative, subsurface irrigation solution.

RDI is based on the natural process of plant growth. Water is released by the plant roots via the proprietary RDI.

“How does that work,” you ask? Plant roots continuously secrete chemicals – called exudates – that serve various functions. When a plant needs water, it discharges exudates. The exudates change the surface tension on the RDI tube and that releases water to the plant’s roots. 

Essentially: the plant signals when it needs water and the RDI tube responds to that signal.

This plant-driven irrigation solution will allow growers to maximize production on all their acres, especially corners and hard-to-reach areas, making it the perfect complement to center pivot irrigation.

Intrigued? I invite you to visit and its blog, “Get to the Root,” to learn more.

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, September 4, 2014

Mobile Apps for BaseStation3 Keep Growers Connected | by John Campbell

Back when I worked on the original BaseStation™, a grower’s shop was the center of his operations. Everything that needed to happen was managed from that small but busy center of activity. That’s not the case now. A grower’s command center is really wherever the farmer happens to be. On the road, at home, in the field, or even on vacation, the smartphone that connects him to his farm never leaves his side. 

BaseStation3 has mobile apps that were designed specifically for either Apple® iOS or Android® operation systems. That means that it was designed from the very beginning to work with those devices. 

The mobile apps for BaseStation3 are bright easy to see in the sun; have a clean, modern design; are intuitive to use; and give the grower the ability to stay informed and in control. Wherever. Whenever.

* * *

Learn more about BaseStation3 in this interview with John Campbell, or stop by the Valley booth at Husker Harvest Days to meet John and see a BaseStation3 demo.

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.