Thursday, July 2, 2015

We’re Moving! | by Kelly Cox

After six wonderful years of calling Blogger our “home,” the Valley® Growing the Conversation blog is moving! Starting today, you’ll be able to find our blog posts directly within the Valley website at www.valleyirrigation.com/blog

Since we started “packing up the place,” we’ve gotten the question “Why are you moving?” more times than I can count. We’re moving so that YOU can find Valley more easily! By moving the Growing the Conversation blog into our website, you’ll be seeing more links to Valley from your Google searches. Of course, we also had to take the opportunity to spruce it up a bit.

If you are a current subscriber to this blog, we invite you to re-subscribe on our new blog here! If you are new reader, we invite you to begin following us at any time. Just click on the RSS icon on the blog and you’ll be good to go.

As always, we’ll publish new blogs and articles each week. Our goals are to keep you informed on the latest irrigation news and provide you with insight to the “people behind the pivot.”

Thank you, Blogger, for many years’ worth of blog hosting and friendship. You’ve never let us down!




Kelly Cox
Global Digital Marketing Manager

Kelly is a native of Omaha, Neb., 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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Why Dealer Education Matters to Growers | by Kelly Schultze

From the equipment they purchase to time spent in the field, growers put many resources into their operations. A grower’s investment involves much more than money. Growers have every right to expect trustworthy, skilled and knowledgeable salespeople and service technicians at their local Valley® dealership.

At Valley University, we strive to make sure this expectation is not only met but exceeded. By providing our dealerships with the most accurate and up-to-date information on our products, we ensure that they are ready to answer any questions a grower may have. It is our goal to give all dealership sales employees the knowledge and skills needed to determine the best irrigation solution for each grower’s specific needs.


The commitment of excellence Valley makes to its customers goes beyond the point of sale, just like our commitment to support all dealership roles. In addition to product information, we provide courses to train service technicians. When service personnel are more knowledgeable about and experienced with Valley equipment, they are more efficient and accurate at the job site.

To train our dealerships’ service techs, we use interactions and simulations within our online courses. Service technicians can practice product installations and troubleshooting before ever leaving their dealership. This increases their comfort with the machines, and gives our growers peace of mind that they have the best trained service techs working on their equipment.

The Valley U team is dedicated to making online learning accessible and beneficial to our dealerships. We already know we have the best mechanized irrigation products available, so it’s our job to focus on making sure we have the best dealerships in the world to support our growers.





Kelly Schultze
E-Learning Instructional Designer

Kelly joined Valley Irrigation in early 2014 as an E-Learning Instructional Designer. When she isn’t at work, she is typically creating replica costumes and props from films, comics, and television shows. Kelly also enjoys learning languages and is conversational in French and Korean. She loves to travel, and has lived abroad while studying in South Africa and South Korea.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Seven Center Pivot Myths Debunked | by Senninger Irrigation

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

Center pivot technology has come a long way in recent years with improvements to irrigation efficiency and data tracking. As pivot and sprinkler manufacturers develop a better understanding of soil health and the water needs of various crops, technologies change and evolve so farmers can irrigate with less water and less energy, while still keeping the high yields needed to feed the world.

Today, most pivot irrigators have abandoned the inefficient impact sprinklers familiar to most fruit and vegetable growers and replaced them with water and energy efficient sprinkler heads, like LEPA applicators.

They have adopted new monitoring technologies that give them the ability to monitor almost every aspect of the system, from how much water needs to be applied and to when water is delivered. Farmers can also verify a machine’s efficiency and make any necessary adjustments to their pivots easily.


Despite these improvements, there are still many farmers across the world that have never considered center pivots efficient irrigation machines.

We at Senninger have been working with pivots for over 30 years and we firmly believe pivots are and will continue to be efficient and continuously improving machines that save water and energy while helping growers obtain high yields. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top pivot irrigation myths and decided to debunk them once and for all!

Myth #1 - Pivots can’t irrigate corners without water wasting end guns.

Farmers who want to try center pivot irrigation but want to continue farming the corners of their fields can add swing arms that attach to the ends of the pivots and water the corners of the fields.

Myth #2 - Pivot sprinklers waste water through runoff and surface soil evaporation.

Some pivot sprinklers are less efficient than others, particularly sprinklers that throw water high in the air. Good quality sprinklers irrigate with large droplets the air can’t steal and distribute water instantaneously over their entire surface area. Spreading out the droplets over a large area helps preserve soil’s intake rate and ability to absorb water.

Myth #3 - Pivots can’t be used with crops prone to foliar disease, like tomatoes.

Pivot sprinklers are extremely flexible! A spray head like the Senninger LDN can be used in spray mode to germinate fields as a growing season begins. Then it can be switched to LEPA bubble mode, which avoids wetting crop leaves. The sprinkler can also be converted to a drag hose if necessary.

Myth #4 - Pivots can only irrigate a limited number of crops like corn or cotton.

Did you know pivots are used to irrigate rice, tomatoes and sugar cane? Growers with center pivots are free to rotate crops every season, change row spacing or switch between high and low profile crops. It’s easy to modify pivots to irrigate different types of crops – most of the changes have to do with sprinkler height and application rate – and they are easy to move out of the way when it is time for planting or harvesting.

Myth #5 - Pivots are way more expensive than other systems.

The price of a pivot may seem overwhelming at first, but investing in a pivot means you invest in an irrigation system that can last up to 25 years. Pivots are very easy to maintain. Most of what you pay is for the system itself – you won’t have to worry about filtration, checking the system for rodent damage, system flushing, air discharging, etc. Moreover, if there comes a moment when a component needs repairs, fixing the components will not lower the system’s overall application efficiency.

Myth #6 - Pivot technology is always changing so there’s no point in buying something that will soon be outdated.

The main components of a pivot will last for decades. Add-ons like GPS control, automated system control and Variable Rate Irrigation Technology can be installed long after the pivot is purchased so growers always have the option of keeping up to date with the latest technologies. Sprinklers and pressure regulators can be easily replaced when they wear or if new technology becomes available.

Myth #7 - Sprinklers use too much water and energy.
Sprinklers use anywhere from 0.27 to 30 gallons of water per minute and they only need 6 to 20 psi to operate, depending on the model selected.



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, June 22, 2015

What It's Like to Work for Valmont Middle East | by Adrian Cliffe

Established in January 2001, Valmont® Middle East (VME) has grown into a leader in safety, quality, delivery and cost. VME has matured from a Valmont Industries Inc. toddler into one of the key manufacturing plants for the Global Irrigation Division.

Pilot production began in March 2002, providing customers with cheap shipping and excellent financial trade services. VME significantly expanded the scope of its capabilities through the years, primarily focusing on efficient customer services and lean manufacturing. Its work has fostered deep and healthy relationships with key customers and dealers, helping them grow.

Ever true to its humble origins, the staff at VME bases its reputation on passion, integrity, continuous improvement and delivering results. This year, 11 of our 80 dedicated employees are celebrating 10 years of service with the company. All of them believe that VME is a great company to work for and continually strive to meet the wants and needs of our customers. 


We asked these dedicated employees for honest feedback on their experience with VME and gathered their answers into word clouds to share with you.

What makes Valmont so enjoyable to work for?



What’s the biggest change you've seen in VME since starting?


Tell me about the best events or moment you had as a Valmont employee.



Congratulations to our team of employees, who are listed below. We know they - and the entire VME team -  will continuously strive to reach its goals by doing business the Valmont Way. With employees who are keen on the Valmont Core Values, we are excited to grow from a good company into a great company.

From Left : Ricardo, Aslam, Khalid, Nestor, Prakash, Wenny, Reme, Cristy, Arnel


NAME
JOB TITLE
YEARS OF SERVICE
Chakkungal Prabhakaran Prakash
Finance Manager
14.4
Nestor Sorita Deloso
Production Supervisor
14.2
Ricardo Barroza Lizardo
Maintenance Incharge
14.1
Cristy Monteiro
Driver/Admin. Helper
13.5
Muhammad Aslam Konimmal
Hr Coordination
13.5
Wenny Cantoria Bartolay
Inventory Control Aministrator
13.3
Maemoun Sabet Alani
Tsm
13.0
Mirza Khalid
Service And Installation Supervisor
12.8
Tom D'cruz Norban D'cruz
Service Technician
11.6
Remegious Praveen Pinto
Warehouse Keeper
11.6
Arnel Marcelo Gutierrez
Senior Welder
11.0















































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. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Getting to Know the New Valley Mobile Website | by Kelly Cox

These days, the Valley® brand is more than ever incorporating technology into its core. Of course, it’s not going to forget its roots in steel and gearboxes, but evolving is part of the game. Part of this evolution resides with how we market the Valley brand.

We’d all have to be living under a box to not notice how much time people spend on their mobile phones. I was walking through a baby store recently, and a woman was pushing a stroller, holding a toddler’s hand, AND updating her Facebook status. I’m still trying to figure out how she was doing all of this with just two hands, but the point is she was on her phone while trying to parent her kids. People are on their phones ALL. THE. TIME. (Even if we don’t necessarily agree with the timing.) So, why shouldn’t brands and companies take advantage of this?

We first launched the Valley mobile website a few years ago when we started to notice people using their phones for more than just calling other people. Since then, online search via mobile phone and tablet has literally skyrocketed, and so we thought it was time to update our mobile site to provide people with what they want, regardless of their computer preference. Thus, we recently launched the new, improved Valley mobile website.

You will find the exact same information and content on the mobile site as you do on the desktop site. Looking for a video? We’ve got videos! Looking for a brochure? We’ve got brochures! Looking for information on why you should buy Valley over the other guys? We’ve got that, too! You can find everything you might need at the tip of your fingers.

Have I intrigued you? I hope so! Before you do anything else, visit the new Valley mobile website from your mobile phone or tablet at www.valleyirrigation.com or m.valleyirrigation.com.







Kelly Cox
Global Digital Marketing Manager

Kelly is a native of Omaha, Neb., 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.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Feeding the World and Increasing Yield 60 Percent

Irrigation: A Key Role in Feeding the World

Today’s farmers are charged with the immense undertaking of providing food for an ever-growing world population. And many have to perform under the pressure of restrictions to conserve land and water.

It’s a substantial responsibility, and one that people outside the agricultural community don’t often consider.

With forecast stats like these, irrigation is clearly part of the solution. Without it, growing the volume of food the world needs will prove challenging. Just ask John Schuerman.

Schuerman has been working on his family farm near Seymour, Ind., since he was 14 years old. He’s not new to farming, but he is new to center pivot irrigation. In fact, he is one of the first in the area to implement it.

He worked with Andy Wolka of B&W Agri Products in Seymour to install his first two Valley® center pivots last spring and installed two more in the fall.

Wolka says he’s encouraging new irrigators to start watering conservatively.

“We know water will be at a premium, even in places that have plenty now, so we want to do this right and start out with conservation in mind,” he explains.

Schuerman didn’t get his pivots in until after the growing season started, and there were three weeks of dry weather before the pivots were up and running.

“On my irrigated land, I brought in 200 bushels of corn per acre,” says Schuerman. “On the land I didn’t irrigate, I had 120 to 125 bushels. Even starting late, I saw a tremendous gain with my difference in yield. I can’t wait to see what happens when I’m able to irrigate for a full growing season.”

That’s a yield increase of more than 60 percent. Results like Schuerman’s will be crucial in the future, since the latest projections indicate that agricultural production must grow by 70 percent by 2050 in order to feed an additional 2.3 billion people.1

“It’s a whole lot better than crop insurance, I can tell you that,” Schuerman says. “If bad times hit, irrigation can help a lot.

“I can see more and more people advancing to pivot irrigation because we need to produce more crops on the same amount of land. Irrigation is one of the only means to do just that.”

While organizations, corporations and government entities are researching ways to increase food production, in the end, it will be up to growers to make it happen. Examples like this further prove that irrigating is more productive than dryland farming, and that irrigation could make all the difference in feeding the growing population.


According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN FAO)2:

• The world population is projected to increase 40 percent by 2050

• Only 20 percent of the world’s croplands are irrigated and that cropland yields 40 percent of the global harvest

• Irrigated farms can produce 100 to 400 percent higher yields for most crops

• Center pivot and linear irrigation are consistently at the top of efficient methods
of delivering water, reaching 95 percent efficiency or greater, depending on sprinkler package design, irrigation scheduling and agronomic practices


1 2050: Increased investment in agricultural research essential. www.fao.com
2 Food for all – World food summit – Agricultural machinery worldwide. www.fao.org

Reprinted from Valley PivotPoint magazine, Spring 2015


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Behind the Scenes with Ben Soliev



Behzod “Ben” Soliev, a native of Uzbekistan, joined Valley® Irrigation in 2011 as an international project manager, working to build Valley site capabilities and optimize global supplies. 

He manages projects for international irrigation, mainly operation- and business-development projects such as locating future plant sites, start-ups, developing new standards for our international sites and knowledge sharing. 

Ben also supports the supply chain for our international locations.

“I like that Valmont®, and Valley in particular, is a multinational company with offices and plants around the world,” Ben says. “It makes me proud to work with the great people of Valmont. 


"I also enjoy meeting new people outside of company and being able to develop and implement new business opportunities, while – at the same time – being able to improve my international business expertise.”

Ben is a co-founder and the first president of the newly created Valmont Professional Network that focuses on attracting and developing top talent through professional development, community involvement and networking.

In his free time, Ben likes traveling and exploring new places, talking over Skype with his family in Uzbekistan, hanging out with friends, watching movies and documentaries, and reading books.



Read previous Behind the Scenes profiles:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Cotton Growers Earn Prestigious Australian Award | by Shannon Peterson

Australian cotton growers, who happen to be Valley® customers, recently won the 2014 Brownhill Cup – one of Australia’s most prestigious agricultural awards. Andrew and Heike Watson were honored for reducing their water usage while increasing their yield at Kilmarnock – their family farm in Boggabri, New South Whales.
From left, Geoff Wearne and Tim Harvey of Agribusiness Banking
Commonwealth Bank and award-winner Andrew Watson.
Photo credit: Paul Matthews.

The Brownhill Cup recognizes farming practices that improve innovation and sustainability. Founder David Brownhill praised the Watsons for their continual improvement.

“Andrew and his team have made a considerable contribution to agriculture, and especially to the cotton sector,” Brownhill said. “Their field trials and on-farm research have contributed to the industry’s understanding of best practice, and they have set the bar high for innovative and sustainable farming practices.”

Andrew was prompted by the millennium drought to closely examine water efficiency measures. In fact, he received a prestigious Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2006 that he used to focus on water use efficiency in irrigation.

“I began to investigate how we could most efficiently irrigate with the water we had,” Andrew said. “I did my scholarship research along those lines, so we decided we would invest in overhead irrigators.”

A visit to Valley Irrigation during his research led him to purchase a Valley Rainger™ Swing-Around linear and Valley BaseStation for remote monitoring and control. He has added two more linears, and his farm plan calls for investing in more linears and a center pivot over time.

Andrew said learning to use irrigation has really made a difference. He believes mechanized irrigation is a more efficient use of the farm’s resources, both water and land.

“Our water usage has reduced by about 20 percent over the past 11 years, while our yield is up by about 30 percent,” he said when receiving the award.

Andrew was named New South Wales Farmer’s ‘Young Farmer of the Year’ in 2004 and won the ‘Australian Cotton Grower of the Year Award’ in 2008. He also served as the 
Cotton Australia board chairman.

Read more about the Watson farm and the award here.




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, June 4, 2015

South Africa’s Popcorn Industry | by Jacqueline Lourens

South Africa grows more than 2 million hectares of corn per year and for this reason corn is a staple food in South Africa. We have a corn culture with many corn-derived products. Popcorn fits perfectly into that culture as an inexpensive snack.

The popcorn industry took off during 1966 in South Africa and has enjoyed steady growth over the years. In South Africa, popcorn production is estimated at 55,000 metric tons per year. Popcorn is produced mostly by irrigation farmers in the Free State and Northern Cape. About 40 percent of the total popcorn production is exported to Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Egypt and the Ivory Coast.


At least 95 percent of the seed planted in South Africa is of U.S. origin. There is currently one popcorn seed breeding company in South Africa that is developing local popcorn hybrids. It produces no more than 20 metric tons of popcorn seed per year. An interesting fact: all popcorn sold in South Africa has been certified as non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) by international laboratories. 

Popcorn is unique among corn varieties because its starchy endosperm expands and pops when heated. The “butterfly” popcorn kernel is usually large, light and fluffy. The “mushroom” type of kernel is more dense and compact like a ball and mainly used for candy coating and caramelizing.

Producing popcorn is a highly specialized industry that differs from conventional maize production. Popcorn plants grow best in full sun after soil warms up to 21 degrees Celsius (69.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Popcorn requires deep watering techniques, and this is where the Valley® 8120 pivot comes in handy. Valmont® Irrigation also recently added AquaDock™ drop hose docking stations to the Valley sprinkler product line. This series of drop components allow for two sprinkler ground clearance positions thereby maximizing sprinkler package uniformity to match the height of the popcorn plants. This eliminates dry rings and ensures even application of water and fertilizer to produce undeviating crop growth and yield in the popcorn fields.


Planting season starts as early as August in the northern part of South Africa, but the bulk of the crop is planted from October to December. The first of the new crop is harvested in late December, and the bulk of the crop from March to June.

One thing is for certain: South Africa’s popcorn industry is a growing market and it is here to stay. If you haven’t tried South African popcorn, you are definitely missing out!






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.

Monday, June 1, 2015

AgSense Live Chat Expands to Support Growers During Busy Season | by Trisha Nelson

LiveChat is working.

As growing season progresses into the summer, we’re already seeing a shift from sales to tech-support related chat sessions.

In April, AgSense® was the first company in the irrigation industry to offer LiveChat for sales and technical support.


Our LiveChat feature, now available on AgSense.net, WagNet.net and even Facebook has already received a lot of positive feedback and helped us tackle these support requests in a much more direct way.

Perhaps the most significant progress over these past weeks has been the ability to provide the LiveChat service to the growing AgSense international client base. 

As we expand our international network, we anticipate leveraging LiveChat exponentially to accommodate sales and technical support like we do here in the States. Just this week we were answering sales and support chats in Germany, Argentina and Turkey.

A ticketing system has also been introduced to AgSense.net and the AgSense Facebook page, allowing grower-customers to leave a ticket after-hours if the Chat Team is unavailable.

In addition to chatting with various members of the sales and support team, customers are still able to reach the offices by calling 605-253-8350 or reach out via the contact form on the website.





Trisha Nelson
Inside Sales Manager

Trisha Nelson has been with AgSense for three years. Her primary roles are to coordinate order processing and facilitate interoffice and client communications. She also assists in technical support during the growing season. Trisha likes Starburst-favored jelly beans, riding motorcycles with her fiancĂ©, and whenever she needs a good cry she watches her favorite movie, Steel Magnolias. 


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Technology and Surface Water Applications | by Tyler Fields

There are places in the country where it is not feasible to drill wells for irrigation, yet these areas have plenty of surface water to use, coincidence? I think not.

The problem with surface water is that it comes in late fall through early spring, while the crop needs water in the summer. Want to solve that problem? Build a reservoir, pump into the reservoir when the water is flowing, and then pump out of the reservoir to a majestic Valley® center pivot!

Valley Water Management (VWM) specializes in working with farmers to collect surface water runoff from their farms, pumping it into a reservoir and then using it for the irrigation season.


Maybe you’ve thought about building a reservoir and lost interest because there is so much involved in that type of project. VWM can take on that burden for you. We can design the entire project, work with your local dealer, and even provide construction management and inspections. You can move onto other projects around the farm and leave the managing to us.

Building a reservoir is an added cost, but it allows irrigation to be installed in a place that hasn’t had irrigation before. And, pumping surface water reduces the demand on your pumps. Less horsepower is required because the pumps aren’t pumping from hundreds of feet below ground. Less horsepower means less energy cost, which equals to cash savings at the end of the year.

Those savings correlate to what we strive to accomplish on every project, do more with less.

Another great feature of surface water to reservoir pumping is that it can be automated based on creek or river level to pump as much water as possible without drastically dropping the water level. The automation is user configurable for different set points to ensure the water level will be sustained, while still pumping as much water as possible to fill the reservoir.

The automation allows you to live your life, whether you’re coaching your kid’s T-ball game or taking a Sunday afternoon nap, and not worry about turning pumps on or off. This option has proven to be cost-effective and optimal where ground water is not available or is too expensive.

Not all areas are ideal for surface water application, but VWM can evaluate your farm and the feasibility of building such a project. Contact your local Valley dealer and ask for VWM’s expert advice to see if the project is a fit for you!




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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Training Time for Middle East Valley Dealers | by Adrian Cliffe

Recently, Valmont® Middle East hosted its annual dealership sales and training meeting in Jebel Ali Dubai. Representatives from dealerships across the Middle East, including India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Turkey, gathered for five days of in-depth training. 

Participants completed software training, honed their sales skills and learned about Valley® Authorized Providers Senninger and Nelson. New products such as BaseStation3™, AgSense®, AquaDock™ and Pump Connect® were introduced and demonstrated.

The feedback we got from the dealerships was great, and they reported gaining great knowledge from the training.

With five days packed with detailed instruction, the group took time to enjoy a Dhow dinner cruise to relax a bit and enjoy Dubai.











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. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Remembering Andy Smith

The Valley® family and people all across the irrigation industry are mourning the recent death of Andy Smith. Andy was taken from us far too early by an aggressive cancer that struck quickly. He passed on Thursday, May 14, in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Andy joined Valley Irrigation in July 2013, but those of us who worked with him felt we had known him much longer. Andy had a way of touching people, turning colleagues into instant friends. His bright smile, infectious laugh and extreme intelligence made every encounter memorable.

Andy had great passion for agriculture, irrigation and any project he became involved in. He worked as our director of technology adoption and was instrumental in the launch of Valley Irrigation Exchange™, the first product connecting precision irrigation data to the other farm management software systems. He worked tirelessly with potential OEM partners to build relationships and create software integration. He developed keen insight on data sharing and data security, and their impact on growers.

Prior to joining Valley, Andy had more than 28 years of experience in the irrigation industry. A gifted orator, he made hundreds of public appearances across the country promoting the merits of mechanized irrigation. He owned a small irrigation business before becoming a lobbyist for the Irrigation Association and also worked for Reinke Irrigation. He was involved with the American Society of Irrigation Consultants, the American Farm Bureau, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and many other organizations. 


The Valley family didn't have much time to get to know Andy - just a couple of years - yet his impact was profound:

I will miss Andy’s friendship and counsel. His fun attitude and laser beam focus on the goals we set were what endeared him to me. I’ll miss the late night text messages with a funny picture or joke. Andy’s love of irrigation was only outmatched by his profound love of his wife, Kim, and his daughter, Madison. I will miss my friend. - Matt Ondrejko, Vice President of Global Marketing

It seemed like Andy knew everyone in the irrigation industry or was at least connected to them in some way. All the people I ever met that knew him seemed to consider him a close friend and not just a business acquaintance. 
- Andy Carritt, ‎Director of Information Technology

In the very short time that I had the honor of working with Andy he became that rare combination of trusted ally, fount of knowledge and close, dear friend.
 - John Campbell, Advanced Technology Product Manager

Andy was an amazing man. I worked closely with Andy and I admired his ability to make friends with everyone he met. Andy brightened a room when he entered and people opened up to him almost instantly. He will be greatly missed by many, and I will definitely miss him. I will remember him always, as will everyone who was lucky enough to meet him. - Brett Sears, Project Manager

I had the privilege of meeting Andy eight years ago. We were working together on a California project. He was a competitor and yet I found him to be warm and open and full of ideas. He was one of those people that never had a bad day, never complained or ran down the other guy. He was a team player every time we met. His great smile, good words and pleasant way will be missed by many. 
- Ray Batten, Large Grower Relations

What I will always remember about Andy was his astounding intellect and passion for the agriculture industry. He was such a joy to work with, always willing to go the extra mile with a smile on his face. Andy was a great man. I was lucky to know him and I will never forget him. 
- Jill Zwiener, Brand Manager

Andy was a guy that was not just friend or coworker, but an incredible asset to the irrigation industry on a national level. Not only was he awesome at that, he was also a father. I recall one time we were on conference call together and his daughter, Maddie, was on the call with us as well. He texted me during the call and said that he worked a lot, but being a father came first. I admired him for that. He will be greatly missed in the irrigation industry and greatly missed as a friend. 
- Tyler Fields, Project Sales Manager, Valley Water ManagementAndy was a person who enriched the lives of those around him. I felt as though I had known him for years. Being around him was comfortable and fun. I will miss his wisdom, his compassion and his presence- Shannon Peterson, Marketing Content Editor

The online tributes to Andy during his brief illness are testaments to his character and life:

- Andy was such a dynamic, amazing, hilarious and passionate guy...it's really tough to accept that he is gone. A bright light, turned off.

- He was a great guy and a pillar of the irrigation industry … He will be missed. 

- Andy and I only worked a few years together in different associations but I always relied on him for information and thoughtful advice. He always put in 110 percent in everything he did and stuck to his convictions. I enjoyed his humor and stories. I know the industry will miss him as a professional and a person.

- The measure of a man is his impact on so many people and the love of his family, friends and fellow man. Great is his influence on so many. No one can doubt his commitment, sacrifice and passion for his God, wife and daughter, friends, and the industry of irrigation. His strength, tenacity and superior intellect have inspired so many and frustrated the foolish. His wit and humor mixed with optimism persisted, whether it was storming or a moment of paradise. Never afraid, always loyal, stubborn for justices, always available, never meeting a stranger and always remembered the names of the people that crossed his path in life. 

- He was a great man and will be missed greatly by everyone who was fortunate enough to know him. I'll always remember him for his huge heart and a smile to match.

- Andy's passion for his beliefs have been a model for many. 

- Andy, you have always been one of my favorite people in my life. Your smile and sense of humor is infectious. Your easy-going, aw-shucks attitude is very Midwestern. Your tenacity on irrigation issues have changed, for the better, a lot of minds. Your influence will always be felt and your legacy will never be forgotten. 

- Andy you are a wonderful person, inside and out. I've know you for several years and the first time we came face to face, I got the biggest bear hug in my life.

- Andy has always been a bright light that everyone gravitated toward. Although I haven't seen him in many years, I've interacted with him on Facebook, and it is so very refreshing to see that he kept that same lighthearted personality even as an adult. He is truly one of the good guys.

- I've known Andy for over 30 years. We we're co-workers and friends. He was always a person that would stand up for what is right and help the other guy before himself. During a tough day he could always find some humor in it, getting a laugh out of everyone. 

Rest in peace, Andy. You will be missed by all who crossed your path.



In lieu of flowers and memorial donations, a college fund has been established for Andy's daughter, Madison, at Fifth Third Bank, 102 S. Lake Street, Boyne City, Michigan 49712. Account number 7975077475.

To read Andy’s obituary and see more photos, visit http://www.stonefuneralhomeinc.com/notices/Andrew-Smith.



Monday, May 18, 2015

LDN Bubblers Maximize Irrigation Efficiency on the High Plains | by Senninger Irrigation



Here at Senninger® Irrigation, we know growers in the High Plains region are concerned about water availability.

Persistent drought conditions in the area are forcing many growers to pump more water from the Ogallala Aquifer, with some depending almost solely on the aquifer to maintain soil-moisture levels. Growers in this windy and semi-arid region also face a greater likelihood of water loss due to evaporation and wind-drift. Our Senninger team knows these conditions make it even more difficult to meet high yield demands and maintain crop quality.


That is why many growers across the region are replacing their sprinklers with our Low Drift Nozzle (LDN) Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) Bubblers.

Growers already know that not all of the water they pump reaches crop roots. Water is prone to evaporating before it reaches the soil. It can even evaporate directly from the soil surface. Soil is also likely to overheat, crack and lose its ability to effectively channel water down to the crop’s root zone.

LEPA Bubblers help growers get around these issues by applying water around 8 to 18 inches above the soil surface and directly into crop furrows. Keeping water so close to the ground helps avoid wetting crop leaves and reduces the amount of water lost to wind-drift and evaporation. That means nearly all the water pumped is absorbed by the soil.

Research by Leon New and Guy Fipps of Texas A&M shows that spray heads can experience a 17 percent water loss at wind speeds of 15 mph. With LEPA sprinklers, at least 20 percent more water will reach the soil surface compared to conventional spray nozzles. Conventional sprinklers are very susceptible to high wind speed, low relative humidity, temperature and evaporation losses.1

Growers are also discovering that installing LEPA Bubblers on fields where they use strip-till or no-till increases soil moisture and reduces runoff and soil sealing. Crop residue protects the water from evaporation while simultaneously protecting the soil from drying out and overheating.

Others are taking LEPA irrigation a step further and doubling their drops from traditional 60-inch increments to tighter 30-inch spacing between heads to more uniformly soak the soil. The benefits of this closer spacing include less water usage, more uniform root zone coverage during pre-watering, reduced dry spots and high yields despite restricted water supplies.

“Using 30-inch spacing with Bubblers gets the job done with less energy, and nearly all of the water pumped is absorbed by the soil,” says Edwin Smith, High Plains regional sales manager for Senninger Irrigation. “There are certain aspects growers need to be aware of before making a switch to this method, but with the right conditions growers could potentially increase their yields and reduce their costs.”

These ideal conditions include relatively flat land, circle planting and crop residue. The maximum recommended slope for growers considering LEPA or close spacing installations is 1 percent. Planting in circle rows is necessary to increase uniform water disbursement and reduce runoff, while crop residue is needed to increase surface storage capacity and prevent soil redistribution. While just about any type of soil will benefit from close spacing, it is important to consider each soil’s water-holding capacity when setting up close spaced Bubblers. Some soils, like porous sandy soils, can handle much higher application rates than others.


1 LEPA Conversion and Management by Dr. Guy Fipps and Leon New


Reprinted from Valley PivotPoint magazine, Spring 2015