Road Time

Road Time from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Keith Byerly

by Keith Byerly

Have you even stopped to think about the miles that you put on your pickup or 4-wheeler in the course of a summer checking your irrigation systems? I have no way to put anything more than an educated guess to it, but I am going to guess that the average farmer drives 50 miles per day checking irrigation systems. And then there is the time that goes along with that. In irrigation season, I would guess that you spend at least 3-4 hours checking pivots. If you are on a load control program, that number could easily double.

So what is the point of all this you ask. To me, this is wasted time. Now maybe you are an Einstein of the gravel road, and you do your best thinking when you are behind the wheel. I know that’s when some of my “best” ideas come to me. If you are, that’s great and I don’t want to deprive you of the intellectual stimulation of passing power poles. However, if you are like me, you have kids/grandkids that have baseball games about 30 days this summer, you have a list of jobs around the place that never seems to get any shorter, grain to haul, county fair, and the list goes on, and on…

That’s all nice and neat, but what can be done about it you ask. Plenty. I hope by now you are familiar with pivot controls. There are lots of systems out on the market today, and whether they are OEM or Aftermarket, they mostly have the same premise. From my phone or computer, I can do some simple things like stop the pivot, control the end gun, see where it is, etc… Nice you say, but my pivot came over on the Mayflower. It’s so old the first time it was tipped over was in the dust bowl. No problem, we can probably handle that. But before we get into the specifics of what system we are compatible with, let’s talk about what we can do with your pivot.

No matter what your pivot is, we can go on it without major modifications. What we can do is add the ability to remotely monitor many things, like when it starts, stops, speed and direction, endgun status, GPS position, and has the pivot stalled. Then with the addition of a pressure transducer, we can also monitor is the pivot wet or dry, and what is the pressure at the last tower. If you have two pivots that are adjacent, it can also notify of pending collisions. In the case of a pivot that is always powered, it can also notify you if wires have been cut. In addition to the monitor functions, you can also add specific modules to control functions you desire. Besides being able to stop the pivot with a command or GPS position, and control when the endgun goes on and off, we can also add the ability to start the pivot, change direction, and control auxiliary devices. For those of you with a computer panel, we can also add a system to give you full remote control of it, without the clunk or expensive OEM data plans.

When it comes to what we can work on, I usually have a simple answer. Is your pivot electrically driven? If the answer is yes, then we probably have it covered (even most T&L’s). In the case of the computer panels, we can do any computer panel out on the market at this time. Unlike some other monitors in the industry, FieldWise monitors work with your existing safety system and do not replace it. Even on neutral-safety pivots with start, FieldWise does not alter the safety circuit to be a hot-safety. That means we can go into a Reinke and not have to alter the electrical system. If fact, the beauty of the FieldWise system is that it doesn’t rewire your pivot, it seamlessly connects to your current wiring without needing an electrician or changing the pivots wiring schematic. You should be able to have anybody work on it and the FieldWise system will not interfere. All of your factory controls are retained and you can still run things from the original panel if desired.


So back to the cost of that road time. I’m not saying that this sort of technology will replace your expense for mileage on a 1:1 basis. But when you figure in the time and hassle of getting up at 1AM to start pivots when load control goes off, or checking to see if the pivot is across the mud hole yet, vs having a text or email letting you know if there is a problem, then the value vs cost changes a little. Starting at $799 for the end tower system plus $169 per year for the data plan ($999 for computer panel plus $200 for data plan), the FieldWise system we offer through AquaSystems by Central Valley Ag is definitely the most affordable. And it enables us to employ VR irrigation also. You certainly didn’t think I would forget that did you.

Precision Ag equipment doesn’t always have to focus on fancy electronics and prescriptions. Simple ideas to save you time and money have a place as well.  The idea here is to have your fields and farm connected to you; so you don’t always have to be on the farm.