Sometimes in irrigation it's the simple things that matter. For pivot irrigation, a change here or there can make a big difference, and a new motor from Valley Irrigation may be one of those game-changers.
The X-Tec Drive is a DC drive motor that can operate at up to twice the speed of a standard AC motor. "This motor has a top speed of 37.5 feet per minute," says Chris Righter, product manager. "We can run from 1 rpm to 136 rpm, and the system provides consistent application across any terrain. And at that top speed, a pivot can cover a circle in half the time, versus a conventional motor."
The DC design of the motor also means it provides constant torque, so the pivot will move smoothly no matter the terrain. But why go faster?
THE INNARDS: The X-Tec drive (top) is a DC motor, with a simpler design that has fewer moving parts.
"With this pivot motor, you can get more efficient chemigation and get your timing right," Righter says. "For the farmer that wants to use the pivot to put down fungicide or other products, this is a better way. The timing of foliar application can be tricky, and fertilizing through the pivot gives the grower more control."
He adds that a second use for the higher-speed system is the ability to apply a light application of water across a crop during the day. "In the Northwest, they apply a light spray of water to potatoes or carrots in the heat of the day to cool the crop. This motor will make that more efficient," he says.
Righter also shared that this motor works well for pivots that aren't full circles. "When the pivot comes to the end of the watering cycle, it can quickly and immediately move back to the beginning of the cycle," he says.
That way, the pivot isn't watering where it just finished. Instead, it's going back to the beginning where soil is driest.
Going the DC route
Changing a pivot from AC to DC does involved swapping in the new tower motors and new wiring. The control has to step power from AC to DC, but Righter says that's pretty simple.
"The DC Motor is mechanically simpler than the AC motor," he explains. "That design should be more durable and long-lasting."
A view of a cutaway of the motor shows there are fewer moving parts for the X-Tec Drive motor than the conventional AC design.
The new motors mate only with Valley controllers, including the Icon Panel and the Pro 2 Plus. "Right now it's only a Valley product," Righter says.
There are other benefits of what Valley calls FastPass technology. During germination, the drive's higher speed allows the grower to provide frequent, light applications, allowing the plant to push through the soil more easily. During early stage growth, maintaining soil moisture can prevent sand blowing and damaging leaves, and it limits erosion.
This variable-drive motor, with its wide speed ranges, also makes it a good fit for variable-rate irrigation. Varying irrigation under one pivot allows for simpler split crop management. And if you have a low spot, you can program the pivot to move at faster speeds over low spots, preventing overwatering in areas that need little or no water, while slowing down over areas that require more water.
This new drive offers a range of opportunities for enhancing pivot irrigation. You can learn more at valleyirrigation.com.
A new run-time app
Calculating run-time applications takes some work. How long to run? How much water is being applied on this pass? When did it start running? Those are questions many farmers are still jotting down in a notebook, but Valley Irrigation wants to change that.
"We have a new mobile app," explains Ashley Anderson, Valley Irrigation product manager. "It allows growers to easily calculate that information."
The Valley Irrigation Run Time app is a kind of irrigation notebook on your smartphone. It won't start or stop a pivot, but you can enter key information about all your pivots into the app; Then when you start a run, just log it in the app and go. You'll have all the information you need, all the time.
Compatible with both iOS and Android devices (download from your favorite app store), the free app is a calculation-driven tool that allows you to see pivot irrigation cycle time completion, when each machine is running, and how long it will take to complete the irrigation interval.
The app is also brand-independent, so you can use it with all the pivots on your farm.
Anderson notes that nearly every farmer carries a smartphone, so having this app gives farmers more flexibility in managing pivots. "It just makes sense that they can use it to monitor and track all of their irrigation machines. It's another digital tool for the grower's irrigation management toolbox," she says.
The system, while it doesn't communicate with the pivot, counts on the user to enter pertinent data including start time and percent timer, and the app will complete the calculation and estimate the end time. Growers can check their run time at any time and from anywhere, so they get back to those pivots at the right time. The app also helps keep a running log of pivot time notes to refer back to later.
Learn more at valleyirrigation.com.