Pivots have been fixtures on farms for decades, towering over crops and extending into the horizon. Most people recognize center pivots as efficient vehicles for applying water, but think of them as raw materials – just pieces of steel – without ever realizing their true potential.
The future is “smart steel.” And that future is here.
The Role of Center Pivots in Agricultural Technology
Valley® Irrigation, in partnership with Prospera Technologies, continues to update and improve their artificial intelligence-based crop monitoring and detection service, Valley Insights™. “At Valley, our research and development never ends. We are in constant contact with growers, agronomists and dealers to learn from their accumulated data and evolve the product based on what they need,” said Craig Bell, Product Manager for Valley.
Powered by Prospera’s computer vision and A.I. technology, Valley Insights acquires and analyzes data from various types of imagery (RGB, NDVI and Thermal) to pinpoint areas of fields that may have anomalies. The algorithms can determine crop health concerns related to irrigation and overall crop diagnosis. Valley Insights then alerts growers to the problem areas, via easy-to-use mobile app, so they can take crop-saving action.
“The Best We’ve Seen Yet”
Gary Schmidt from Eagle View farms near Twin Falls, Idaho, manages approximately 80 pivots on the farm, which grows corn silage, hay and triticale for their dairy, and rotating around 400 acres of potatoes. He has used several types of imagery detection services previously, and gotten mixed results. This year, at the recommendation of his Valley Dealer, Jeremy Martin from Sprinkler Shop, he tried Valley Insights.
“I was a little skeptical at first because there’s so many different programs out there, and we’ve subscribed to probably three or four in the last five years that are hit or miss,” said Schmidt.
“After a while we go on to the next one because that’s supposed to be a good deal. But with Valley Insights, the method and way they take their imagery, it’s by far the best we’ve seen yet.”
Valley and Prospera are also beginning U.S.-based tests of new anomaly detections, including weed and nutrient detection, and continuing trials of the industry’s first sensor-equipped irrigation machines. These on-pivot sensors represent the next step in the companies’ joint roadmap to turn existing irrigation infrastructure into autonomous connected machines that independently acquire and analyze plant data and take action to address irregularities at the plant level.
Located just a few meters above the plants, the sensors collect very high-resolution images day and night – capturing significantly greater detail than drone, aerial or satellite imagery alone can provide.
This advancement will provide the most complete picture of plant health in the industry, according to Prospera CEO Daniel Koppel. “Data is key to a more productive and sustainable food system, but the cost of collecting high-quality data in agriculture has been prohibitive. By combining our industry-leading computer vision and A.I. technology with the leading tech-enabled infrastructure of Valley Irrigation, we’re reducing the cost of data acquisition, increasing the speed of deployment of new technologies, and delivering real value to growers.”
Connected Crop Management
Growers can access Valley Insights via Valley 365®, a secure, next-level platform for connected crop management. It combines the best features of Valley remote technology solutions into a single sign-on platform and harnesses real-time data from three key areas of the ag ecosystem: equipment, environment and agronomy.
Again, all of that sounds great, but doesn’t mean much without actual results at the field level. Fortunately for growers like Henry Boersma, Valley Insights and the other solutions within Valley 365 can back up their claims of success.
Boersma farms near Moses Lake, Washington, and says Valley Insights delivers results quickly and accurately. “When Valley Insights alerts me that sprinklers appear to be plugged on certain spans, resulting in under-watering in those sectors, that’s exactly what’s happening.”
He adds that Valley Insights is helping him with overall irrigation management by increasing efficiency. “We have another eye out there, so we can make corrections before we see stress on our crops with the naked eye. We can fix minor issues before they become major problems.”
This “extra set of eyes” can lead to actual field-level return on investment. Eric Williamson of Williamson Farms near Quincy, Washington, estimates Valley Insights could have saved $25,000 in crop loss, if it had been in effect for one of his fields that he planted late. “Valley Insights would have seen [the issue] much earlier and we could have saved the crop,” he said.
To learn more about Valley Insights, contact your local Valley Dealer
or go to valleyirrigation.com/insights