Saturday, October 31, 2009

Irrigation and Energy Conference

Mechanized irrigation systemsFarmers work consistently to reduce operating costs while maintaining and improving crop yields. Energy and water use are two operating costs that farmers can control.
The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts will host a one-day conference to help farmers reduce energy use and increase water use efficiency. It will be held at the AgTAC Energy Center in Tulare.

The conference will provide information and practical experience on numerous innovative precision agricultural technologies. It will highlight recent successful introductions of mechanized irrigation systems.
The morning program offers an overview of emerging "hot button" issues in air and water quality that the agriculture industry faces. These will include groundwater pumping and cost-sharing funds from the USDA. Air and water quality specialists will offer updates on ag-related air and water quality regulations.
Guest speakers will discuss an overview of precision agriculture technologies.
Further discussions will cover mechanized center pivot and linear overhead irrigation systems. These systems are being adopted because they offer high application uniformity, increased automation, and low reliance on labor.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Outdoor Security System

Detect intruders anywhere out in the openThis is the first outdoor security system that requires no electricity. It uses sensors and trap sensors to detect intruders and risk situations. With no need for building works or channelling, since the technology it uses is completely cordless.
The system cosists of an electronic unit and a number of sensors and trap sensors (three different types) plus, if neccesary, an actuator with up to 50 components per installation. The coverage range can be up to 50 metres between each trap sensor and the Electronics Unit. Remote communications are achieved by using a SIM card from any operator, slotted into the Electronics Unit. Optimal power management means that the system can send one alarm every day for a whole year.

Trap sensors for detecting people

With conventional security a large number of electronic devices are used, but they're not traps. They are detectors that make no attempt to be hidden: barriers, cameras, volumetric devices, etc. Burglars are aware of their existence and so try not to be detected. They are intended to detect intruders in closed compounds.
Our system can detect and surprise intruders anywhere out in the open, applying logic: if someone wants to steal they must pass along a certain path, approach a certain machine, enter a given site, open this box, go up those stairs, etc.

Sensors for risk situations

Issuing an alert if an animal leaves a fenced area, when the water level is too low or too high, when somewhere is flooded, if there is a power outage, or for any other application without the need for a power supply.


For tracks, fencing, gates, farm machinery, irrigation wells, barns, silos, pens, tools, etc. From now on traps can protect the things that previously were at risk of being stolen or damaged.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Big return in corn

Center Pivot SystemWhen it came to deciding whether or not to spend $120,000 to install a center pivot in an area where the systems are a rarity, “We had to do some serious thinking,” says John Grant, who farms hill land in north central Mississippi.

John Grant, and his son, Kenneth, say the difference in corn yield over dryland in 2008 helped them pay almost half the cost of installing a center pivot system on a 170-acre field. They’re hoping to recoup the rest of the cost this year.

Drilling wells in the area is an expensive — and often futile — proposition, given the depths required to try and get adequate water to run an irrigation system. Grant and his son, Kenneth, who farms with him, had a go at drilling a well on a field where they planned to grow corn in 2008, but called it quits when they got to 600 feet and still couldn’t get sufficient water to run a center pivot. They weren’t ready to give up on irrigation, though.

“Bogue Creek runs along one edge of the field,” says John. “You can walk across it in most places and not get too wet, and just to look at it, you wouldn’t think there’s enough water flow to support a quarter-mile center pivot. But, it doesn’t go dry in the summer, and when we checked the flow, it averaged 3,000 gallons per minute. The pivot would require only 1,000 gallons per minute.

“We worked with the Big D folks at Greenwood, Miss., to design a Valley system that would pump water from the creek, uphill through an underground line, to the pivot". “We had to pay the electric company $9,600 to run a line to power the pump in the creek and the pivot, but when we looked at operating costs, electricity was much less than diesel.

“We ran the system 16 days last year, and we’ve already used it several times this season. It takes 36 hours to make a full circle on 167 acres, putting down a half-inch of water.”

When harvest time came, says John, any reservations they may have had about the irrigation investment vanished. “We averaged 195 bushels on the field, and the yield monitor on the combine was showing some spots with 230 bushels. On areas outside the pivot, we averaged 54 bushels. With the price we got for our corn, we figure we recouped half the cost of the system in just one year". “If corn prices hold this year, and we’ve already got a lot of it booked, we’ll likely make back the rest of what it cost us. As soon as we get this pivot paid for, we’ll look at putting in another.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vehicle collides with Pivot Irrigation System

State police are looking for the driver of a vehicle who fled after colliding with a Pivot irrigation system southwest of Bridgeville.
Police say a faulty stop arm on the irrigation system – a large metal structure more than a thousand feet long that moves on wheels around a central pivot point to water farm crops – placed it onto Cannon Road between Wesley Church Road and Federalsburg Road, where it was struck by the car traveling east about 2:45 a.m.
The collision left both the vehicle and the irrigation structure inoperable. The occupants fled after removing the license plates from the vehicle, police said.
They said there was no sign anyone was injured. The pivot had to be removed from the vehicle by a towing company, which then removed the vehicle.
The Bridgeville Fire Department and the De Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control responded to remove hydraulic fluid that spilled onto the road. The road was closed for about two hours.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Installation of 23 Center Pivot in Pakistán

The Government of Sindh intends to install 23 Center Pivot Toeable Sprinkler Irrigation Systems, one each of 50 acres, at each district of the province. The list of districts: Hyderabad, Karachi, Thatta, Matiari, Jamshoro, Dadu, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Tando Mohd Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Umer Kot, Nawabshah (Daur), Naushehro Feroze, Khairpur (Nara), Tharparkar, Larkana, Ghotki, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Kambur-Shahdadkot, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Shikarpur.

The firms already pre-qualified / short-listed with the Government under WC & PE-HEIS project would be required to:

  • Design and prepare material & cost estimates with the consent of farmers
  • Get it authenticated from consultants and approved from the Project Director
  • Install the complete system on farmers’ fields with all diesel, electrical and water hook-ups / accessories within this financial year 2005-2009
  • Operate the system to the satisfaction of the farmers and line agencies on turn-key basis
  • Provide O & M for one year, after the installation within estimated cost (warranty period) and from 2nd year to successive five years at an agreed O & M cost
  • The firms would be required to provide training to the farmers
The format for submitting rates can be purchased from the office of the undersigned on payment of Rs.3000.00 during office hours. The firms are required to submit their sealed offers for the cost estimates. The offers will be opened by the Technical Committee of the Department in the committee room of Directorate General, Agricultural Engineering & Water Management Sindh, Hyderabad, in the presence of the representatives of the respective firms, if they so desire.
The Project Directorate, with the approval of competent authority, reserves the right to accept or reject any or all offers without assigning any reason.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Man survives three storms in three years

Three times is not a charm for Joe Johnson. The Stafford County farmer is tired of severe weather after getting hit three years in a row. In 2007, the Greensburg tornado destroyed his home south of Macksville. The damage was so extensive he and his wife, Marsha, moved to another house west of Macksville. In 2008, a tornado damaged that home and some of his farm equipment. Then Monday, severe weather destroyed his irrigation pivot and sheered off some of his corn crop.
"The replacement value of the irrigation pivot is around $85,000 to replace so it's going to be expensive to fix it," said Johnson. "After three years of this, I wish the tornados would go bother someone else."
His neighbors joke he should move. But just like the ups and downs of farming, Johnson says he's here to stay. He says he'll weather whatever Mother Nature brings next.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Good progress with potatoes

Things have certainly become very busy on the farm since my last instalment. Here at North Paddock potato planting is well under way. The harsh winter has produced a good friable tilth and seedbeds are excellent.
We farm
potato hills in the autumn using a Dammer-Diker. This is a great bit of kit. Sub-soiling legs travel down the centre of each hill, followed by bulking bodies forming the hills. A novel wheel then digs small divots in between each hill. In winter these help trap snowfall and increase moisture accumulation; during the season they assist with drainage and prevent irrigation run-off.
In spring we simply travel over the hills once with a packer to firm them up and break any remaining clods, and then they are ready for
planting. A warm period of weather with temperatures as high as 26ºC has seen tubers going into lovely warm seed-beds.
The output and accuracy of our 6-row Spudnik planter is good; planting 60 acres a day (half a
Pivot circle) and achieving 92% efficiency.
Good progress was being made until very suddenly the clouds appeared, snowfall started and all fieldwork subsequently ground to a halt. I write this column after a week of temperatures hovering around zero with regular snowfall. At least it will provide good moisture for emerging
potatoes and good conditions for seeding grain and canola. I shall be patient and return to the hobby which occupies farmers all over the world - checking weather forecasts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Family's farming roots

Although Jake has been an entrepreneur in agribusinesses such as starting the grain elevator here and raising hogs as a young man, he never ventured too far from his roots as a dirt farmer. "My grandfather was my hero," he said. "He and his brother, Jim, came from Hillsboro by covered wagon in 1903 and purchased land which remains in the family today".

"I owe everything I own to the perseverance of Grandpa. My grandparetns first bought 500 acres of brush-covered land 2.5 miles north of Vancourt for $2.50 per acre. They cleared the land and four years later purchased addition adjoining land for $7 per acre. My dad and his brother, Sam, helped Grandpa raise cotton, milo and registered Hereford cattle on the stockfarm," Jake said.
"Before they owned a tractor, they broke the cropland with mule-drawn plows. At harvest time, they would have to pull the cotton bolls by day, and at night they would pull the cotton out of the bolls." From those early years to the present generation, the advancement of technology and diversification has brought changes to the Powell farm.
Irrigation and modern harvesters have not only increased the proficiency of production, but genetically improved cotton varieties have increased the yield.
"My family was born with farming in their blood. My grandfather also liked the ranching business. He had 100 head of registered Hereford. My father also liked the cattle business. When I started working with my father, he sort of turned the farming over to me and he stayed with the cattle. Actually, I was in my second year at Southwest State College in San Marcos when my father was in the hospital with back problems. I came home to keep the farm going and never went back to college".
"I have always loved farming. I enjoy watching the crops grow. It is unique that all of the land purchased by my grandfather remains all together. Between my cousin, and I, we are still operating it. I concentrate on farming only."
"I also had ranching interest for years in Menard and Concho counties, but sold that property several years ago. I also tried several ventures early in my life which no doubt helped hold on to the farm. I had a 200-sow confinement operation in the 1960s and 1970s and sold most of the swine. In 1974, with partners, we built and operated the Vancourt Grain Elevator. I was running the hog operation during the same period, so I was mixing the hog feed, which saved on input costs. The farm has good water wells, so irrigation was installed about 25 years ago. It is ideal for this part of the country where we have more dry years than rainy ones. With the Pivot Irrigation Systems, there is always something green and growing on 650 acres of farmland".

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Canal collapse cuts irrigation supply

A centre pivot sits idle after part of the Benmore irrigation scheme canal (centre background) slipped a week ago, cutting off water to six farms.
Six farmers with 28 centre pivots are without water from the Benmore Irrigation Company's scheme as the driest part of the year approaches. Last Friday, a portion of the scheme's main canal collapsed just east of Lake Ruataniwha. The slip is clearly visible from State Highway 8 on the side of the hill.
Company chairman did not know how much had collapsed. However, it was hoped the problem would be rectified by this weekend, restoring the irrigation. A contractor had been employed to restore the flow. The repairs would also need signing off by an engineer.
The scheme started delivering water about four years ago and was recently extended through the Benmore Saddle to the Ahuriri River.
The break has come at one of the worst times of the year, but this shouldn't be causing any major problems for farmers. The scheme has only been going for a short time and this is the first major problem we have had.
It is part of the ongoing process of a new scheme going through the settling-in process.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Irrigation project joins research, technology, technique

The Center Pivot Water Conservation Project exists to bring the latest research, technologies and techniques to irrigators. The project is a three-year education program with major funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund.
Center pivot manufacturers, there are four in Nebraska, contributed both cash and in-kind services. UNL is a contributor, as well as the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.
The program is designed to help irrigators become more efficient with the water that they apply through pivots. For example, growers can do a better job during the season by not irrigating corn and soybeans so early. It’s okay to stress soybeans. In fact water stress may increase yields if you don’t fully irrigate. Stressing corn during the vegetative growth stage will not hurt yields. But once the tassel comes out, it needs to have full water.
2009 is the first year of the program. The five presentations developed for this year include:
  • Sprinkler packages. This presentation will help producers select the most efficient sprinklers for their own situations.
  • Pumping costs. This presentation will allow the crop grower to decide if the system is using more energy than it should and if it needs to be tested for inefficiencies.
  • Nebraska Ag Water Management Demonstration Network. This network uses moisture sensors and an atmometer to keep track of how much water crop is using during the growing season.
  • Limited irrigation. Growers will learn about research that reveals methods for producing optimum yields with less water.
  • Water Optimizer. This is an Excel-based spreadsheet program that permits producers to plug in their own numbers to determine how best to use irrigation water.
In the presentation will be working the four pivot manufacturers and their distribution networks. Dealer open houses will be attended where presentations will be given.
Visit with the dealers in your neighborhood and ask if they’re going to have an open house.
Presentations will be soon available for download and viewing on the producer’s own computer.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Center pivot system ruined by vandals

A center pivot system was destroyed by vandals in what York County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Vrbka called "probably one of the worst cases of criminal mischief" he has seen. Based on the value of the damage alone — about $30,000 or more — that may be true.
The irrigation system, in a rural area between Henderson and McCool Junction, was vandalized sometime Saturday. "They turned it on, full blast, and left it," Vrbka said. "It ran until it completely froze up, the pipes broke and the entire structure collapsed."