As a successful sugar beet farmer, Jeff Henry finds his new Zimmatic pivots to be pretty sweet. While conserving water supplies, the new pivots are helping him run the farm his parents started years ago.
Henry grew up on a farm in Jerome, Idaho, only a few short miles from his current farmland. He spent his childhood learning the ropes from his parents, Bob and Colleen, and upon returning home from earning a plant ecology degree from Idaho State University in 1989, he found farming to be a career that made sense. He’s now been farming for 20 years.
A LOVE FOR FARMING
“It’s hard to explain to somebody why you do it,” he said. “It’s something you have to love and really want to do.”
The family-owned farm is operated with the help of Henry’s brother, Bob Jr., and his nephew, Ryan. He is planning on his son Jacob joining the team soon. He and his wife, Natalie, also have two daughters, Elizabeth and Kelsey.
Henry is an 18-year representative on local growers boards and a retiring 16-year representative on the American Sugar Beet Growers Association (ASGA). He earned the title of “2013 Sugar Producer Grower of the Year” by Sugar Producer magazine.
With more than 2,000 acres, Henry says they always have sugar beets growing somewhere on their land. He alternates the beets with malt barley for four rotations, and grows alfalfa to replenish the soil.
A PIVOTING SUCCESS
In order to better care for his vast amount of crops while keeping water conservation in mind, Henry purchased several Zimmatic pivots, including five new pivots bought last fall and this past winter. The new pivots are “much more efficient.”
With available water amounts being a concern for Idaho farmers, the Zimmatic pivots are just what Henry needs to help conserve the local water supply. Water sources in the area are 60 percent canal and 40 percent deep well.
THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF WATER
Henry says the key to profitably raising beets in desert-type land is to use the right amount of water. Ideally, one-third of an inch a day is recommended. With the Zimmatic pivots, Henry puts out three-fourths an inch every two and a half days, which is the time it takes for each pivot to make a full circle.
Before Henry started using the Zimmatic pivots, he utilized the old hand-line irrigation units. He says they were putting out too much water and beets don’t respond as well to extreme amounts of moisture.
Henry’s Zimmatic by Lindsay dealer, Don’s Irrigation, is only a few miles away from his farm. “They provide nearly instant service when we need it. They are really great to work with . . . parts, whatever we need. They are excellent and have a great staff.”
Henry sells his sugar beets to Amalgamated Sugar Company, who is owned by the Snake River Sugar Cooperative. Amalgamated Sugar produces powdered, granulated, white, and brown sugars.
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