From Dryland Farming to Satellite-Guided Pivot Irrigation
Third-generation Seward, Nebraska, farmer Neal Hentzen has experienced first-hand the technological innovations in irrigated agriculture.
He’s farmed dryland with no irrigation. He’s farmed using flood irrigation. He’s farmed using center pivot irrigation. Now, he’s stepping up his game and farming with a satellite-guided precision irrigation system controlled by smartphones.
Hentzen recently bought Zimmatic by Lindsay’s 9500CC with GPS Corner Guidance, which uses a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) correction signal, emitted from a built-in base station, to provide a precise corner arm path without the need for traditional buried wire guidance.
It’s The Future
“I never dreamed I’d be using a satellite guidance system to irrigate my crops,” Hentzen says. “But, it’s the future and it’s definitely the way to go.”
Hentzen, age 62, has farmed his entire life near Seward. He grows 1,400 acres (567 ha) of seed corn, commercial corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. Most of his crops are irrigated with pivots. He shares equipment with his cousin, Dennis Hentzen.
The new 9500CC is located on a quarter section of ground that was previously flood irrigated. This is Hentzen’s first corner system, which has seven towers and spans equalling 1,500 feet (457 m).
More Irrigated Acres
“Basically, the 9500CC with GPS Corner Guidance allows me to gain an additional 25 acres (10.1 ha) in irrigated ground, increasing my yields in the corners.”
Hentzen originally had planned to install the 9500CC using 13,000 feet (3,962 m) of underground wire to guide the corner’s path. When Hentzen’s local Zimmatic dealer, Nebraska Equipment, and sales rep Kenny Pekarek told him about the new GPS Corner Guidance, Hentzen jumped at the new precision irrigation technology.
“GPS Corner Guidance saved Neal from having to dig trenches for the underground guidance wire,” Pekarek says. “He understood right away that it would save time and expense during installation and service down the road.”
According to Tanner Hoffman, Zimmatic product manager, GPS Corner Guidance improves a corner system’s adaptability by allowing changes to a field’s boundaries without retrenching. The 9500CC can also be moved to a different field, if needed, without the extra expense of additional guidance wire.
“When a grower enters the new field coordinates, Zimmatic’s SmartDesign mapping tool easily creates a new, highly precise path,” Hoffman says. “There’s also no risk of wire damage caused by rodents or lightning strikes.”
The 9500CC corner arm control panel provides real-time information and diagnostics for easy in-field adjustments. In addition, Zimmatic’s patent pending GPS Guidance Safety Control board provides an extra level of support to ensure the corner operates correctly at all times.
An added benefit for Hentzen is the precise water delivery application provided by the 9500CC since seed corn needs an even water pattern, Hoffman says.
Hentzen adds, “I’ve farmed for many years and can’t remember a year I haven’t had to irrigate. It’s amazing to go from farming dryland to gated pipes to now a satellite-guided pivot.”