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Agrimarketing : July August 2012
We've all read and heard the figures: the earth's population will grow to more than 9 billion by 2050. It's a staggering number. One that will challenge agriculture to provide consistent and affordable food, fiber, and fuel. While new crop varieties, crop protection chemicals, and hi-tech machinery will certainly help agriculture become even more efficient in the coming years, there remains a limiting factor ... water. Agriculture is the heaviest user of water throughout the world. In fact, agricultural irrigation accounts for 65% of all fresh water usage. And, as the population expands, the need for water for human and industrial consumption also expands. It's estimated that by 2050, there will be a significant gap between the water available for human use and the water required by agricultural, industrial, and municipal demands. Conservation and the efficient use of water, especially by agriculture, are key. That's where Valmont Indus- tries' Valley Irrigation comes in. TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES IRRIGATION EFFICIENCY Irrigation might seem a simple process. After all, every homeowner has watered a lawn and garden. The trick, though, is to make every drop of water count, sometimes while delivering crop nutrients, on a mas- sive scale. According to Michelle Stolte, Valmont Industries Global Marketing Manager, "Valley Irrigation leads the industry in technology advancements to help make irrigating with center pivots and linears as precise as possible." For example, with Valley Irrigation corner machines, farmers can irrigate square, rectangular, and odd-shaped fields, putting more land into production. The company's Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) Zone Control on center pivots offers irrigators the ability to precisely irrigate areas in their fields that may differ due to different soil types, ponds, or changes in crop. Low- pressure sprinklers conserve energy and water. Controls are computer- guided and GPS-ready. "We also incorporate remote management technology to allow the grower to be as efficient as possible," adds Stolte. Even tire pressure can be monitored. Valley Irrigation's Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) received a 2012 Top-10 New Products Award during the 2012 World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. "We were excited to have been named a World Ag Expo Top-10 New Products award winner with TPMS," says John Rasmus, Control Product Manager, Valley Irrigation. "With the Valley Tire Pressure Monitoring System, the exact location of the flat tire can be identified at the Valley Pro2 control panel, or remotely with the Valley BaseStation2-SM." The Valley TPMS was developed in response to a need identified by the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI). With more than 10,000 tires and wheel gearboxes in their operation, NAPI needed a way to monitor for low tire pressure without having to constantly replace parts. "There were many challenges in developing TPMS for center pivots," adds Rasmus. "Where typical TPMS for vehicles only needs to transmit tire pressure information very short distances, tire pressure information for center pivots may need to be transmitted over 1,500 feet to the center pivot control panel. Once there, it may again need to be transmitted several miles to either a central monitoring system or to a grower 's mobile phone. " "All the major changes or improvements in this irrigation equipment now come in the way of technology. Valley Irrigation prides itself on having the most advanced technology offerings, from GPS to remote monitoring and control," says Stolte. A HISTORY OF INNOVATION In 1946, Robert B. Daugherty was a 24-year old ex-Marine without a job. He had served in the South Pacific and had seriously considered staying in the service. On a visit to his hometown of Valley, Nebraska, Daugherty met with his uncle who advised him to investigate a small agricultural operation run by another Valley native, Sam McCleneghan. The company's only product at the time was a moveable crop elevator. Although not formally trained in agriculture, Daugherty had been exposed to the agricultural business when helping his father at the Omaha Stockyards. Daugherty paid $5,000 for half interest in the operation run by two to three employees, depending on sales. The new partners renamed the operation Valley Manufacturing, and Daugherty set off promoting their product. The small company's big break came with a contract with Sears and Roebuck Co. for 1,000 elevators. By 1952, Valley Manufacturing had 100 employees and a few more agricultural products in its lineup. When a farm recession hit, sales slowed. Daugherty knew the company needed to diversify. An employee told him about Nebraska inventor Frank Zybach who was tinkering with a center pivot 42 Agri Marketing July/August 2012 FEATURE STORY CONSERVING WATER, THE VALMONT WAY by Mike Gustafson, Contributing Editor Stolte
AgCareers Canada 2012