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World Ag Expo showcases top new products
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There are 10 new products selected as the best innovations for the year as well as five new dairy products that will be showcased at the World Ag Expo.

Two of them involve irrigation.

Valley Tracker Mobile
Monitoring and  controlling pivot irrigation equipment without traveling to the field has never  been easier or more convenient. The new Valley Tracker Mobile enables you to  check the status of a sprinkler irrigation machine and control its operations  anywhere you have cell phone coverage just by pressing the phone’s touch  screen. All you need are a Web-enabled smartphone or smart PDA, a Windows  mobile browser and access to the Internet.

“Getting water to  your crops when and where it’s needed is key for increased yields,” says Rich  Panowicz, aftermarket and product sales manager for Valmont Irrigation. “In the  past, this meant looking forward to additional costs and worries during peak  irrigation times — early morning pivot checks, increased fuel costs from those  additional trips to the field, even adding additional labor during the summer  months.

“With remote  technology like this, you control your irrigation equipment at your  convenience. No more driving through rough fields at 2 a.m. to check or stop  your irrigation during a rain storm.

Unlike competitive  products for cell phones that show only text-based information and text  messages, this new product provides colorful graphics to depict the current  status of each machine. Using the smartphone’s touch screen, you can view  different status reports, check for any malfunctions and send commands to  operate the irrigation machine at the press of a finger.

“Tracker Mobile is designed  specifically for use with a smartphone or smart PDA,” Panowicz says. “There’s  nothing else like it. You don’t need to call every individual pivot to check  its status. With this new technology you can make one call with your Smartphone  to check the status of all your machines and to select detailed information  about each one. It saves time, money and hassles.”

Here’s how it  works. After using your smartphone to log in, you can check the last reported  status of your machines in terms of on or off; the direction the pivot is  moving, the amount of water being applied; the position of the machine in the  field; voltage and water pressure.  The  number of items that can be monitored for status will vary depending on the  type of control panel that the Tracker product is installed on.

The Valley Tracker  Product line in conjunction with Tracker Mobile, also provides the ability to  alert the user if the machine shuts down or any other unexpected changes occur.  You can easily view the alarms through Tracker Mobile or be alerted via a cell  phone call or text message, providing a very flexible menu of options for  alerting the user to a problem in the field.

To control the  machine you simply select your changes on the screen such as pivot on or off,  direction change or the amount of water to apply and then send the commands in  one touch of the screen. This saves time because the changes are sent in one  transmission, not individually.

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A patented environmentally friendly device that fits into the main line of drip, sprinkler or flood  irrigation systems allows growers to stretch limited water supplies without  chemicals and without extra electrical power.

Made by Aqua-PhyD,  the unit measures 48 inches long and depending on size of pipeline, about 12  inches in diameter. It is mounted between the sand filters and before the line  goes into the ground.

“Aqua-PhyD  optimizes soil structure and increases mineral and nutrient uptake without  chemicals,” says Jerry Rai, the company’s director of agriculture.

He describes  results in one field trial of a compacted soil where he used a compaction meter  to measure 700 to 800 pounds per square inch (psi). The meter could penetrate  no more than 1 inch deep into the soil.

“Within a short  period of time after adding the Aqua-Phyd system, compaction was reduced to the  200 to 300-psi range and the probe penetration increased to 2 feet,” Rai  reports.

“This technology  improves hydraulic conductivity, increasing water use efficiency.  In addition to using less water, the system  can help reduce use of irrigation pumps to lower energy costs.

“The Aqua-PhyD  unit also improves leaching of salts which enables the use of water with high  levels of total dissolved solids (TDS),” he notes.

Last summer the  Aqua-PhyD system was tested on several farms in California’s  Central Valley, where severe shortages of  irrigation water had forced some growers to start using ground water with high  TDS levels.

“In some of these trials, growers were  applying as much as 1,700 pounds of sulfate and 1,100 pounds of sodium per  acre-foot of water,” he says. “Our system allowed these salts to leach out.”

At Sano Farms near  Firebaugh, in a cooperative test with Western Farm Service, an Aqua-PhyD system  was installed to irrigate tomatoes where high TDS ground water was used.

Upon completing  the test, Jesse Sanchez, field manager of Sano Farms said, “I had a significant  reduction in water use, increased my moisture in the soil, leeched the salts,  and got a better yield.”

Aqua-PhyD costs  about $45,000. That price includes a three-year warranty, and semi-annual water  and soil tests to review soil health, nutrient uptake, water usage, and perform  plant analysis.