New technology is transforming the center pivot beyond a tried and trusted irrigating tool to one that can measure its own efficiency, as well monitor fields for weed or pest problems. Some of that new irrigation tech was presented during a pair of virtual sessions during Potato Expo 2021.
Valley Irrigation partnered with data collection and analyzation firm Prospera տեխնոլոգիաներ to create Valley Insights, a platform that takes imagery collected by on-pivot cameras and sensors and then utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to provide analysis for growers and agronomists.
Pivots are equipped with up to 10 high-resolution, weather-proof sensors that can capture field conditions as they irrigate, day or night.
“Night vision is a big deal,” said Darren Siekman, Valley’s vice president of water delivery and business management. “In a lot of arid environments, we do have irrigation that goes on at night.”
The AI learning portion of the platform will eventually be able to detect specific weeds or plant conditions and then provide that information in simple form, rather than the user having to go through vast amounts of images or data to reach their conclusion. Building up the AI algorithms is currently ongoing.
“We’re really just scratching the surface,” he said of the platform’s capabilities.
The sensors are GPS-equipped, which allows growers to quickly pinpoint and follow up in troublesome areas. They’re electrically powered through the pivot, but an internet connection is needed to send notifications and updates to the user’s smartphone app. Information, whether all or partial, can be easily shared with others.
Ease of use and cutting down on data analysis were front of mind in development.
“We can overwhelm ourselves with massive amounts of information and the coolness of (new technology), but at the end of the day, I just want to know what’s going on in my field and what should I do about it,” Siekman said.
Trevor Mecham, Valley’s VP of global technology, grew up scouting potatoes and driving roads. He said what excited him the most is being able to cover ground faster and getting information in a way that will allow growers to act quickly. Being able to pinpoint stressed plants or problem areas faster and more accurately will improve yields and cut down on input costs.
“To be able to cover more ground and get to a predictive state rather than a reactive state is going to be crucial in the coming years as we have to produce more produce with less,” Mecham said.
Transform your center pivot from a mere irrigation machine to a digital data hub for in-field intelligence. Together, Valley and Prospera bring unprecedented visibility to your fields so you can optimize your irrigation and agronomic management decisions and progress toward autonomous crop management. The collection of plant-level information as well as analysis using advanced AI algorithms gives you actionable insights about issues in your fields when it matters most – enabling you to improve your return with fewer inputs.
Valley Irrigation founded the center pivot irrigation industry in 1954, and is the worldwide leader in sales, service, quality and technology. With historical sales of more than 250,000 machines, Valley-built equipment annually irrigates approximately 25 million acres (10 million hectares) around the world. This global presence will become even more powerful with Prospera’s AI-based solutions, connecting growers everywhere with the data they need to become more efficient and productive.