Scott Everidge of Dooly County, Ga., is a second-generation farmer who works with his mother, step-dad and two uncles. He grows cotton, peanuts, corn, wheat and soybeans on approximately 3,000 acres. When Scott got the opportunity to try out the Valley ICON1 smart panel for center pivot irrigation management and control, he jumped at the chance.
2,500 acres are irrigated under 40 pivots, all of which Scott manages himself. He says his father believed in and adopted center pivot irrigation early on, which is one reason they’ve stayed strong even in the tough years.
“In the old days, we had three pump stations on a creek that ran through our land,” he says. “We only had six or seven pivots, and they ran on generators. They helped us stay in business, but they took a ton of my father’s time. On the other hand, because of advancements in technology – like electric motors, variable frequency pumps, new Valley smart panels and more – I can manage 40 pivots by myself.”
Saving the Soil
All of Scott’s pivots are within about a seven-mile radius, and he can see 15 of them right from his front door. He generally has gone to the field to manage them, though the soft, red soil of Georgia made it a bit of a challenge.
“The soil divots really easily, so it’s hard to drive on, and I’m doing damage as I go,” Scott explains. “I don’t like running over crops, either. It’s not an ideal situation. I needed a way to control my pivots from the edge of the field.”
For the past 10 years, he’s been working with sales and service expert Blake Reid of Reid Brothers Irrigation in Unadilla, Ga., to find a solution. First, they installed center pivot control panels remotely by trenching in wire from the pivot point to a more convenient spot, like the edge of the field or at the pump. While that made it easier to control his pivots without driving into the field, the wire and labor to bury it was costly.
So when Blake asked Scott to be among the first to try the new Valley® ICON1 smart panel for remote irrigation management and control, he gladly accepted the opportunity.
Simple, Complete Control
The Valley ICON1 was designed for growers who want all the capabilities of a smart panel without ever having to go to the pivot point. With the Edge-of-Field WiFi capabilities, Scott has full access to all the information and control he needs right on his smartphone through the Valley ICON® app.
“Now we can leave the panel at the pivot, but still control both the pivot and the pump from anywhere around the edge of the field,” Scott explains. “It saves money on installation and wire, and we don’t have to dig up part of the field.”
While Scott appreciates that he can control his pivots remotely, he still likes to be close by to see exactly what’s happening.
“There’s a definite benefit to the Valley ICON1 for people who want to be in the field while controlling their pivots, but don’t want to go all the way to the pivot point,” he says.
Blake agrees, “Scott can be in the proximity of the field, so he can see what’s happening and do effective troubleshooting, but he doesn’t have to go all the way to the pivot point,” he says. “He has all the benefits of being there, without having to leave his truck or tractor which reduces the wear and tear and extra miles as well.”
The Valley ICON1 panel itself has only three soft touch buttons. While Scott doesn’t use those, he says they’re easy for the hired help to use when necessary.
“They can go out there and turn the pivot on or off in an emergency, which is all they’d ever need to do,” Scott says. “And I still have control from my smartphone”
Using his phone to control his pivots was an easy transition for Scott. While he currently uses the Valley ICON app on his smartphone to control his pivot, the Valley ICON1 is also AgSense® enabled, so he has the option to control his pivots with his phone or tablet from anywhere.
“Who doesn’t check their phone before breakfast?” he says. “I don’t have to be trained on how to use it. It just saves me time and makes life easier.”
More Family Time
Scott remembers well how much time his father spent managing pivots, so he’s grateful for any technology that gives him more time at home. “It’s worth a lot to be able to control my pivots so easily,” he says. “I can have more quality time with my family when I don’t have to be out in the field at the pivot point. That’s something my father didn’t have, and I value it immensely.”
Scott says as time goes on, he plans to replace his older panels with the Valley ICON1.
“I have some newer Valley Pro2 panels that we wired into the edge of the field, so those will stay put for the time being,” he says. “But, as we replace pivots or panels, we’ll start implementing Valley ICON telemetry more and more.”
Obviously, Scott has seen how technology can benefit his operation and his family life, and he plans to take advantage of that.
“I can see using AgSense on the pivots that are farthest away,” says Everidge. “As I use it, I’ll save a lot more time. I always have my phone with me, which makes management so easy and saves me time. That’s worth a lot to me.”
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