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.