May 31, 2022
On May 30, 2022, a storage building at MVI caught fire, which is now 100% contained. Thankfully, there were no injuries. We are grateful to the local first responders for taking quick action to keep everyone safe. Per the news release issued by the Wadena Fire Department below, the situation continues to be monitored by emergency managers and there is no risk to residences or employees at MVI. New information will be posted to our website as it becomes available.
MVI has been working closely with the Wadena Fire Department and Minnesota State Fire Marshal Office, as well as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to ensure continued safekeeping of farm chemicals.
As far as moving forward, MVI has been in Wadena for 30 years and will be here for a long time to come. We lost inventory but our people are all safe and ready to serve our customers. Our suppliers have already ensured that we will have new products in the weeks ahead.
We know there were a number of weather-related emergencies in our area yesterday that affected families, friends, farmers and nearby communities. Our MVI team is thinking of and praying for everyone affected. We will overcome these challenges as a community. Thank you for your ongoing support.
March 15, 2021
Rarely is the term, “micromanagement” met with positive connotation. No employee wants to be micromanaged. Most supervisors don’t want to be micromanagers. Even outside of the business world, micromanagement of the home and family generally aren’t met with warm reception.
Yet, in the world of agriculture and, particularly, irrigation, micromanagement can take on a whole new meaning. And a good one, too.
Agriculture technology is enabling farmers to be more in control of what’s happening in their fields and with their equipment. Variable rate seeding allows precise efforts based on soil variability. Newer sprayers feature individual nozzle control to get the precise drop size and amount per crop or location in a field. The data provided by UAV technology is giving farmers the opportunity to spot potential problems while they’re still minor enough to fix.
In a sense, agriculture technology is encouraging farmers to be micromanagers.
With water conservation efforts and more farmers realizing the power good irrigation practices have on their yields, it’s not surprising precision irrigation is one area being greatly impacted by agriculture, and seeing the benefits of micromanagement.
Flash Back and Fast-Forward
Irrigation methods and technology have made great strides since the irrigation windmills of the early 1900s. From early canvas hoses to modern-day micro-sprinklers, both the methods in which water is applied as well as the irrigation infrastructure itself have evolved.
One of the most significant advancements to irrigation methods has been center pivot systems and technology. Combining turbine pumps, pipes, and sprinklers that were more readily available after World War II, Frank Zybach built the earliest design of a center pivot system. Partnering with Robert Daugherty, Jr. the product has evolved into modern-day systems that are often seen in fields throughout the country, irrigating every type of crop from corn to potatoes.
But the story doesn’t end there. Just as precision agriculture opportunities continue to shape the ways farmers plant, harvest, and even scout their fields, technology is impacting the ways center pivot irrigation systems enable farmers to conserve water, operate more efficiently, and better irrigate crops for better yields.
Variable Rate Irrigation
Topography, soil data, adjacent waterways, crop type, and other factors make every field unique, thus, making the argument that every field should be irrigated to its individualized needs. Enter variable rate irrigation (VRI).
First invented to eliminate water overuse that’s both bad for crops and wasteful, VRI allows farmers to customize water application per field based on numerous factors, defined by the farmer, entered into the system as a VRI Prescription. VRI can get so accurate, water application can be varied and controlled down to each square foot.
In general terms, VRI can be applied to most types of irrigation systems, including micro-sprinklers, drip, and subsurface drip irrigation. In center pivot technology, VRI works by combining hardware and software, along with customized preferences per each grower, to apply water only where it’s needed and only the exact amount needed.
In addition to the biggest benefit of VRI, water conservation, the practice precision water application has been proven to result in better yields. Furthermore, growers can save time, labor, and costs attributed to fuel, chemical, and fertilizer by employing a VRI strategy.
As VRI continues to evolve, some manufacturers are making systems interchangeable with other brands. Valley Irrigation, for example, offers a VRI system that’s interchangeable with most top, competitive brands, opening up the opportunity to farmers who operate different types of systems.
Nearly every professional industry, from construction to surveying, is taking advantage of GPS technology to work more economically, efficiently, and effectively. The agriculture industry is no exception, with GPS already incorporated on most pieces of farm equipment. The technology also lends itself well to irrigation.
GPS solutions are being used for positioning on center pivots and linears, and guidance on corners and linears. The positioning capabilities accurately pinpoint the position of a center pivot or linear for further accuracy of precision irrigation, as well as fertilizer and crop inputs. GPS guidance on corners and linears uses satellite-based RTK to steer a machine along a programmed path, again, enhancing precision with both water and crop inputs. The technology can be used on end-guns to precisely reach ends of corners, and virtually eliminate water waste.
Furthermore, guidance also lets farmers install corner and linear irrigation equipment in difficult areas or those typically too expensive. In the past, corner and linear guidance followed wire buried underground. Not only was this susceptible to rodents, a lightning strike could cause significant damage.
Going hand-in-hand with the opportunities of VRI systems and GPS, technology has greatly impacted the ways in which irrigation systems are managed.
Original control panels were developed in the early 90s to work in conjunction with VRI systems. They allow a farmer to set the rate of application and adjust at any time from anywhere, without having to go into the field.
Modern control panels now enable variable rates across the same field; for example, one half receiving ½ inch of water, while the other half receives a full inch. They can also be programmed to auto-adjust the system based on temperature, set to allow the pivot to travel a specified number of degrees in a designated time period, and programmed months in advance, all directly from the panel or even a Smartphone.
Not just applicable to VRI, virtually every system on the farm, including pumps and sensors, can be monitored and managed through any device, from a Smartphone to a tablet to a desktop computer. Best of all, these systems record and store all the data they collect for future use and decision-making.
As for what can be managed, the possibilities are virtually endless. Programs are available to provide crop monitoring and measurement of soil moisture content. Others enable control of a pivot’s starting, stopping, direction, and speed. Some can be paired with weather sensors or other programs to further enhance their capabilities and precision. And many of them track real-time info and send alerts to the device, letting a farmer know if something should be looked into.
Bringing It All Together
Site-specific management tools build on the key benefits of efficiency and various savings that are hallmarks of VRI and GPS technology. Working together, these technology advancements are helping farmers be more in control of their equipment and fields, and realize all the benefits to a maximized degree.
When considering the advantages of VRI, GPS, site-specific management, and irrigation technology as a whole, it’s easy to see how micromanagement is actually a good thing.
About The Author
Bobby Kempenich is Division Manager of MVI and based in Wadena, MN.
November 11, 2019
Variable rate irrigation is an opportunity for any farm’s precision ag efforts, from water conservation to responsible farming practices. Minnesota Valley Irrigation (MVI) is the local Valley Irrigation dealer in Wadena, MN and Bismarck, ND, bringing center pivot irrigation and technology to farmers, ranchers, and landowners for nearly 30 years. In addition to offering full-service irrigation systems and pumping equipment, MVI’s licensed apprentice and journeyman electricians provide electrical services.
With the help of MVI’s team of experts, variable rate irrigation can save water and is a responsible way to apply nutrients. The VRI systems can be programmed for intelligent application, conserving water and only applying nutrients where needed, so there’s no waste. VRI technology also allows farmers to control the pivot systems from anywhere, without having to go out to the field.
Watch to learn more about MVI, a division of RDO Equipment Co., as well as center pivot irrigation systems for sale and how variable rate irrigation fits into a farm’s precision agriculture strategy.
July 17, 2017
25 years ago, Bobby Kempenich had an idea. An idea to launch a business that combined his knowledge of irrigation equipment, a partnership with a local farming operation, and his passion to deliver the best service to farmers. Today, that idea is MVI, a full-service Valley irrigation dealership with locations in Wadena Minnesota and Bismarck North Dakota.
This year, the company celebrates 25 years of partnership and dedication to improving irrigation practices for customers. As part of its ongoing 25-year celebration, Bobby took a look back on MVI’s beginnings, its evolution throughout the years, and what’s on the horizon for the future of irrigation technology.
History of Excellence
After working for an irrigation equipment dealer for several years, Bobby felt it was time for a change. He began discussing the idea of his own irrigation dealership with one of his biggest customers, Ron Offutt, a fourth-generation potato farmer and founder of R.D. Offutt Company. In addition to providing advice and encouragement, Ron agreed to embark on the journey with Bobby as a partner in the business. The two sought out to establish a Valley irrigation dealership in west central Minnesota.
“I was confident that Bobby had the knowledge, drive, and relationships to succeed in his own company,” Ron recalls. “I also felt opening a dealership in the area was a smart business move; there was opportunity to partner with a leading irrigation company to better support customers.” That irrigation company was Valley.
Familiar with Valley equipment from his experience in the industry, Bobby felt it was the best product and company in the industry, and knew it was the business he wanted to partner with. It also seemed like an ideal opportunity as, “Both Ron and I were aware that Wadena County was an open territory for Valley,” he said.
Taking the chance, Bobby called the company, then submitted the paperwork and request to join the Valley dealer network. Less than three weeks later, the response he’d hoped would come did. Starting off in a single, small store, with a team of just four employees, MVI officially opened its doors in January of 1992 as a partnership with R.D. Offutt Company.
MVI’s first expansion came close to home, as the company quickly outgrew its small store in Wadena. The team moved to a newer store, a former John Deere equipment dealership just one block away, to better accommodate the business and customers.
Next came MVI’s first venture outside of Minnesota, into Bismarck, North Dakota in the late 90s. Seeing the opportunity in the area, Bobby acquired an existing Valley dealer in neighboring Mandan and moved the operation to Bismarck.
The company’s next expansion, into Montana, came in 2014, when a Valley dealer approached Bobby, “looking for help with direction and focus for the business,” he said. With their interest piqued, the MVI team looked at the irrigation business in the area and saw great opportunity.
“Everything that was or could be irrigated was being irrigated, but with non-traditional methods like flood or solid-set. Only about 20 percent was center pivot,” Bobby said. That, paired with water conservation being huge and the environmental push showing no signs of slowing, the team moved forward with acquiring the stores and grew MVI’s footprint to the cities of Billings and Great Falls.
Powell, Wyoming soon followed the Montana stores acquisition, and MVI, a company that was once a single store and four employees, had expanded to five stand-alone stores and more than 70 team members.
“We have slowly but effectively evolved and grown our business to meet the changing needs of farmers, and expanded to serve areas that we feel would greatly benefit from what we can offer,” Bobby said.
Around this same time as the Montana and Wyoming expansion, MVI was integrated as a division of RDO Equipment Co., the equipment division of R.D. Offutt Company. This move greatly benefits MVI, providing access to the staff and resources at RDO Equipment Co.’s headquarter office, the Field Support Office, in Fargo, North Dakota.
In addition to the benefits of shared resources, the move to bring MVI under the RDO Equipment Co. umbrella offers the opportunity for closer collaboration. Not only does RDO Equipment Co. have an agriculture equipment division, hallmarked by nearly 50 years of partnership with John Deere, the company also has an irrigation division, RDO Water.
With stores located on the west coast, desert southwest, and in Mexico, RDO Water provides irrigation services, from micro-sprinklers to subsurface drip, to full consulting and design. RDO Water’s business is an ideal complement to MVI’s expertise in pivot irrigation, and the relationship between the two divisions is already resulting in quality exchanges of ideas and knowledge, according to Bobby.
“Becoming part of RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water has been very positive for us,” Bobby said. “They’ve grown, diversified, and gone through acquisitions throughout the years – all that experience brings a new wealth of info to us.”
An Evolving Industry
Just as the MVI team has expanded and evolved its business to keep with modern farming practices and customer needs, so too have the technology opportunities it and Valley offers to farmers.
Bobby recalls, “Back in the early 90s, everything was high-energy, big horsepower, the goal to pump a lot of water,” he said. Then, in the mid-90s, the conservation effort came about, so low-pressure, low-energy, and very precise, precision application was in demand.
In the mid-2000s, MVI reached the point where it had converted everything to keep with the continued push for water conservation. Then, Bobby says, the technology boom caught on, hallmarked in the irrigation industry by Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI), which Bobby explains began as, “Programming into the panel. More water, less water, faster application, slower speeds. And now we’re at the point it’s site-specific, varying application rates on the same field for different soil types, crops, and other factors.”
As the first center pivot manufacturer, Valley has always been a pioneer in the industry and still today continues to lead in key areas like VRI, panels, and GPS solutions.
The Next 25 Years
As Valley continues to advance irrigation solutions, the team at MVI is continuing to see success based on traditional values and the foundation on which the business was built.
“We’re a service-focused company,” Bobby said. “That has always been our number one priority and it will continue to be our focus.”
While he may hold traditional values, Bobby and his team recognized the impact new technology and products have on farmers, and strives to keep with their proactive approach on promoting it and educating customers. From customer events to team members consulting in the field, MVI offers numerous opportunities for customers to learn more about solutions positively impacting their business.
Building on the relationship and new opportunities with RDO Equipment Co., MVI recently began a partnership with the company’s Service Support Center to provide an additional line of help to MVI customers across the company footprint. RDO Equipment Co. established the Service Support Center as a unique above-and-beyond offering, featuring trained team members who are able to offer direct support to customers.
“Our business was built on service and, especially as we’ve grown and expanded, we need our customers to have access to experts who can answer their questions,” Bobby said. “They can call with their questions and a trained expert is ready to help.”
When he looks ahead to the future of irrigation technology, Bobby sees VRI, which is, “Still in its early stages,” becoming more pronounced and widely implemented. He also feels satellite imaging is another area of potential major growth on systems. But he’s also quick not to put too much of a boundary on the possibilities.
“The sky’s the limit,” he says.
The same words that he could have told himself 25 years ago when MVI was an idea waiting to become a reality.
As MVI continues to mark its 25-year milestone, the team invites customers to join the celebration with a special offer. Visit your local store, or call 844-684-8801 to request an inspection from the trusted, experience team at MVI.