50 for 50: Valley Irrigation

Published online: Jul 12, 2021 50 for 50, Articles, Irrigation, New Products
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition. To view the full roster of “50 for 50” honorees, click here

This article appears in the July 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

Robert Daugherty began Valmont Industries in 1946 in Valley, Neb., with $5,000 and a dream. Of course, it wasn’t known as Valmont then; it was called Valley Manufacturing, and they focused on farm elevators.

Then, in 1954, Daugherty obtained the patent for center pivots from inventor Frank Zybach. In the years that followed, Valley engineers made the innovation sturdier, taller and more reliable, and converted it from hydraulic power to electric. With that, the company that you now know as a global leader in irrigation and ag tech was truly born.

Center pivots themselves were a technological step forward, offering greater yields than dryland farming and vastly increased water efficiency over flood irrigation. But at Valley Irrigation, they never stop innovating. From the first corner machines in the 1970s to the industry-first remote management system in the 1980s, they have led the way by never settling for good enough.

“Our success has always been about more than the steel in the field, although [we believe] ours is the most durable and best-performing,” says Len Adams, Valley’s president of global irrigation. “Valley has become the leader by listening to grower needs and anticipating future demand. That has continued into the present decade, with connected crop management technology that is changing the landscape of precision agriculture.”

Continued innovation from Valley, like Valley 365, helps growers increase yields and conserve resources with real-time data. Valley 365 allows growers to monitor and control their irrigation from anywhere at any time; schedule irrigation based on scientific data about soil, crop type, development stage and weather; and optimize water application based on field-specific prescriptions. Plus, with Valley Insights, available in select regions, growers can put imagery and artificial intelligence to work for their operations and receive notifications about crop health concerns related to water application or other issues in their fields.

“Our upcoming acquisition of Prospera Technologies will create the largest global, vertically integrated AI company in agriculture,” Adams says. “But more importantly, it demonstrates our commitment to helping growers produce more with less. And it shows that our eyes are on the future.”

Valley, a Valmont Company, has been growing and evolving for more than seven decades, and their story is just beginning.