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!