Watertronics Dee river ranch case study


Courtesy of Lindsay Corporation

The Future of Irrigated Agriculture
Lindsay’s complete solution from pump to pivot

The 10,000-acre Dee River Ranch near Aliceville, Alabama, is an example of the future of farming on display today. Owned by Annie Dee, her brother Mike Dee, and their 10 brothers and sisters, Dee River Ranch is located near the Mississippi-Alabama state line.

The business is made up of a successful cattle operation, along with a diversified crop portfolio including corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton.

Today, the ranch showcases the latest in Lindsay’s integrated irrigation technology and products, including pivots, pumps and remote broadband telemetry. And, the system is already paying for itself through higher yields, lower labor costs and greater profitability per acre.

When the owner-operators of Dee River Ranch were looking for a solution to better manage their water and transition to irrigated production, they came to Lindsay Corporation and its diversified companies for its expertise, products and services.

The Dees had several goals in mind in integrating the project into their ranch:

  • Conserve land and water resources.
  • Make the farming operation more efficient and sustainable.
  • Mitigate risk.
  • Capture winter and spring rainfall in a reservoir and use the water for crop production.
  • Make use of advanced irrigation technology to save time, labor and energy.
  • Integrate and link all project components using cutting-edge remote telemetry.

Dee River Ranch showcases cutting -edge irrigation technology as part of The Lindsay Advantage of durable, rugged irrigation systems, high-tech controls and plug-and-play add-ons. The following Lindsay products and services were deployed at the ranch.

Zimmatic Pivots and Controls/Growsmart Technology
Dee River Ranch features five new Zimmatic center pivots, for a total of seven on the site, ranging in length from 988 to 2,023 feet (304 to 617 m). The pivots feature the thickest pipeline on the market and cover about 1,500 acres (607 ha) of corn, soybeans and cotton.

All seven machines are equipped with Zimmatic BOSS control panels, Growsmart GPS satellite positioning for precise pivot position and end-gun control, and chemigation and fertigation capabilities.

The programmable controls increase efficiency and improve yields by allowing the right amount of irrigation, at precisely the right time of the crop growth cycle.

FieldNET Wireless Irrigation Management provides the Dees with full control and monitoring of all pivots and real-time text message alerts to any of their cell phones. A user-friendly Web portal provides a quick view of every pivot, including location, status and water usage.

FieldNET Mobile provides automated control of the system from any smartphone.

FieldNET’s pump control is used so the pivots can be grouped with pump stations for powerful information-sharing to reduce energy costs.

Watertronics Pump Stations
Water for the Dee River Ranch pivots comes from a 120-acre reservoir that was specially built for the project. The reservoir is fed by natural runoff and by water pumped from a nearby creek bed.

Watertronics customized pump stations are used to transfer and pump the water. The pump stations were custom engineered and pre-tested based on the specific needs, field conditions and irrigation network design at Dee River Ranch.

The main pump station has the capacity to deliver water to 15 total pivots. The transfer pump station delivers water from a creek bed at the ranch up a grade of 50 feet and over a course of 3,000 feet to the reservoir.

Watertronics variable frequency drive (VFD) control technology is used to reduce energy consumption and cost by automatically adjusting to water pressure and flow requirements of the system.

Ezwireless Broadband/IRZ
Remote networking and broadband Internet from ezWireless, a Lindsay company, is the project backbone that links all of the irrigation assets together—moving data across the entire project site and in an area with limited or no cell phone coverage.

Antennas, including the 80-foot (24.4m) tall base station tower, link all of the Dee River Ranch pumps, pivots and ancillary devices, including FieldNET Wireless Irrigation Management, and provide on-farm high-speed Internet capability over an area of 20 square miles. The ezWireless system includes infinite possibilities to add other high-speed plug-and-play data devices, such as video surveillance cameras, soil moisture probes and weather stations.

IRZ Consulting, a Lindsay company, played a critical role in designing and engineering the overall irrigation delivery system at Dee River Ranch. For example, IRZ’s water resource management expertise allowed the Dees to know that the capacity of the 120-acre reservoir would meet their in-season irrigation requirements. IRZ also developed integrated solutions for power and water efficiencies and savings at the ranch.

The Dees are now documenting the savings, efficiencies and higher yields from this cutting-edge, integrated irrigation technology project.

Five farms on the ranch had corn on them in 2012. The average dryland corn yield was 103 bushels per acre while the average irrigated corn yield was 182 bushels per acre—a 79 bushel difference per acre across all five farms.

The Dees, first-time irrigators, installed two pivots initially last growing season to verify the value of irrigation. After seeing the results, they added five more pivots this year and now estimate the entire Lindsay project will pay for itself in less than four years.

“That is a great return on our investment,” Annie Dee says. “We are delighted with our results so far and know they will improve as we learn more and when to irrigate.”

Dee added that the ezWireless broadband cloud over the ranch has simplified their operation and saved labor by allowing them to access, view and control the pumps and pivots from their computers and mobile devices.

Mike Dee says the efficiency and completeness of the Watertronics pump stations is phenomenal, allowing the ranch to pump its irrigation water using electricity and at a fraction of the cost of diesel.

“The pump stations required a heavy upfront investment but I can see now that they will pay for themselves in a couple of years and provide us with so many more options to expand in the future,” Mike Dee says. “There’s nothing on the market that I know of that can pump water as efficiently for us as the Watertronics pump stations.”

Initially, the Dees had a five-year build out plan for their irrigation technology system. But now, with the improved yields and pumping and other efficiencies, plus today’s higher commodity prices, they have moved that up to a two year plan.

Meaning, they have ordered eleven additional Zimmatic pivots to be installed and up and running before spring planting next year.

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