Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How Irrigation Technology Meets Farming Challenges

by Kelly Cox, Global Digital Marketing Manager, Valley Irrigation

Farming is more complicated today than ever before. Farms are larger. Growers need to conserve soil and water. Different generations have different priorities. And, to top it all off, there are more options for everything, from seed to tractors to precision irrigation machines. How do you deal with it all?

Precision irrigation companies are addressing these challenges by developing new technologies that will make farming easier for everyone involved. While it’s second nature for the Millennial generation and Gen Xer’s to use the latest technology as part of their everyday lives and their farming operations, a large number of Baby Boomers have been early adopters, as well.

Technology is Not Just for Millennials
Our irrigation experts at Valley® Irrigation have been around for a while – some since the 1970s. They admit that they are sometimes surprised at the number of growers who are comfortable with technology and the regularity with which they use it.

One such irrigation expert, Jake LaRue, observed, “I was recently presenting at a conference, and I noticed that a large number of older gentlemen were using tablets. I’d be explaining something, and they would be looking it up on their [tablets], checking out demos. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. You have to adapt to succeed, or at least have someone working for you who can use the latest technology effectively.”

Looking Out for Future Generations
Not only do our irrigation experts have years of experience and observations, they also believe that many farming challenges, like new, lesser understood technologies and management practices, remain to be addressed by precision irrigation technology. “There’s still a lot of wasted water out there,” says LaRue. “[We recognize] the need to stay on top of the changes and develop solutions that focus on sustainability while making farm management easier and better.”

Despite these challenges, our irrigation experts are confident that new technology and innovation in farm irrigation will help drive the world forward by not only increasing profitability, but also allowing us to grow more food to keep up with the booming global population.

Irrigation Technology is a Game Changer
There is so much new technology available to irrigators; from the ability to manage irrigation machines at a kid’s ballgame to the capability to water crops exactly when and where it’s needed, it’s hard to argue that irrigation technology is not a game changer in agriculture. These technologies have the power to positively impact two very important resources: time and water.

However, for these powerful technologies to be successful for any one farmer, they must be accompanied by education and support from the factory to the field.

With Greater Knowledge Comes Greater Yield
The birth of the World Wide Web brought about a very cool thing: the sharing of knowledge at incredible volumes and speeds. In 2015, irrigation industry leaders came together to form irrigation.education, an interactive, easy-to-use online resource for irrigation best practices and training. This free educational website is available to anyone interested in learning about farm irrigation theory and benefits, water application, technology advancements, service troubleshooting and more.

As a sponsor of this educational resource, Valley Irrigation fully believes in empowering our growers to learn as much as they can about newer irrigation technologies in order for them to be as successful as possible. After all: With knowledge comes power.

Don’t Forget About Data Security
A hot topic nowadays is data security and privacy. Without your data, these new irrigation tools won’t work their best for you – it’s an essential piece for you to successfully adopt new technologies. So, that being said, what exactly is “data security and privacy”? Just another buzzword like “unicorn” or “Pok√©mon”? Hardly. We just mentioned that education and knowledge are the keys to the empowerment castle, so let’s take a moment for us to educate you a bit more on what it means to secure your data and privacy and why it’s so important to discuss.

Let’s think of data security as a farm. Inside your farm are chickens, goats and cats. Outside the farm lives a pesky, hungry coyote. What do you do? You’d protect all of your animals from the coyote by doing whatever you can.

In the real world, the chickens, goats and cats are your data. You should take preventative measures to ensure that the coyote (or hackers, unwanted parties, etc.) doesn’t take hold of your animals. Here are some tips on helping make sure that your data remains secured:
  • Locate and read the “terms of use” within the software application or website, typically found at the bottom of the page. By reading the “terms of use,” you will know exactly what the application or website can take from you, in regards to your data and privacy.
  • Place your data on a secure website behind encrypted firewalls. In this case, a username and password will be required to access the data. Typically, these sites will begin with “https:” in their website address (URL), rather than “http:”
  • Know who has the authority to approve the sharing of your data and who has access to your data. Data sharing can be good or bad. Most growers benefit by sharing the data with their trusted advisor, but it is important to understand if your specific data is shared or sold to others without your knowledge.
  • Understand what value the data could provide to your operation. Value can come in various forms, such as better insights into productivity, cost savings, more efficient use of labor, simplified record keeping, etc.

Taking control of your data security and privacy is an essential piece to adopting new irrigation technologies. Data is an asset that will only grow in value in the years to come, like your time and available water. Taking preventative action now may result in a fruitful future for both you and those who succeed you.

It’s a Great Time to Be a Farmer
Some may disagree with this statement, but today is a great day to be a farmer. Yes, the agriculture industry is not in the greatest shape, available freshwater is dwindling, and everyone is walking around someone else’s private property with their phones and tablets trying to “catch them all.” 

BUT, now is the time when farmers can and will make a difference. 
  • They have the power to grow more food with less water, helping to solve two very big global challenges.
  • They have the ability to spend more time with their family and friends through adoption of new irrigation technologies.
  • They have an expansive library of information to help them better understand their vocations, share knowledge, and gain education.
  • They have available easy-to-use tools to help them keep their data private and secure.

We’re proud of our growers. Can you say the same about your operation? Take a closer look at new irrigation technologies today and start building a better world with us.

About the author: Kelly Cox is the Global Digital Marketing Manager for Valley Irrigation in Valley, Nebraska. 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. 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of The Groundwater Foundation, its board of directors, or individual members.

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