Nebraska, USA. Expansive plains, interspersed with occasional hills; classic Midwestern small towns with quiet streets and highschool football pitches; and of course: acres and acres of farmland. In the late 18th century, pioneers set up tradeposts and homesteads in what would become the 37th state. Today, Nebraska encompasses some 49,000 farms and ranches, spread across more than 45 million acres – which equals more than 90 percent of its total land area.
Two generations. Our journey takes us to Reznicek Farms, situated a few miles outside the rural town of North Bend. It is here, on around 6000 acres, that Justin Thiesen and his father-in-law work together, growing crops of beans and corn. Winters in this part of the US are harsh, with temperatures routinely dropping below 0°F / -17°C. The frost-free growing season, spanning from April to October, comes with its own challenges: hot summers, combined with limited rainfall, make irrigation systems a vital part of large-scale farming; at the same time, the region is prone to frequent and strong winds – which calls for an expertly designed, high-performance sprinkler package.
Embracing change. Around eighty percent of the Thiesens’ farmland is irrigated using center pivots. When Justin began to see dry spots on his yield map every autumn, it became clear that something must be done. At that point, the pivot systems on Reznicek Farms were operating with increasingly worn-out sprinklers, most of them unregulated. “It was extremely inefficient,” Justin explains. “I knew I had to try something different.”
He first discovered Komet at an industry expo in Fremont, which included a comprehensive presentation by Komet’s Technical Sales Director, Josh Mosier. Among many other aspects, Justin was struck by the company’s focus on efficiency. When he was offered to install some Komet sprinklers on a trial basis, he saw it as the perfect chance for a real-life, side-by-side comparison with his existing set-up. “The difference was incredible,” he later explained. “The older systems would throw the water up in the air, causing it to evaporate. But with the Komet KPTs, water drops to the ground right at the pivot.” By the end of the field test period, Justin had made up his mind: today, eight pivot systems on Reznicek Farms are equipped with a Komet sprinkler package. “The improvements I’ve seen across my Komet-irrigated acres include better patterns, better coverage and, to follow that, a better yield.”
Key to success. “The efficiency of an irrigation system is what it all boils down to,” says Tyler Mensik of Advanced Irrigation Solutions in Fremont. “You can have the nicest pivot, but if you don’t combine it with the best sprinkler package on the market, you’re not going to be successful.” As for the remarkable improvements achieved by Komet products, the independent dealer has a clear response: “The savings for our customers are enormous, considering the time, energy and fuel that are required to get the water to the plant.”
Especially in regions with a variety of climatic challenges, designing the perfect sprinkler package takes both know-how and finesse. “Up until the past few years, there really hasn’t been much change in the irrigation market, nor in terms of how sprinkler packages are designed,” says Josh Mosier, Komet’s Technical Sales Director for Canada and the USA. “One of the things that we’re pushing to do better is to educate growers on what they need to know. We want them to ask questions like: what are my soil types, what are my cropping systems, how is this going to tie in to the amount of water I have to provide for that crop.” A one-size-fits-all approach, the expert emphasizes, is definitely outdated. “We want to ensure that all of these aspects are taken into account. Let’s look at everything, all the way down to engineering level, and determine which products and designs will work best in each specific field.” The grower’s ultimate success is always at the core of Komet’s mission. “At the end of the day,” Josh continues, “it’s all about helping farmers produce a better, more consistent crop – year in and year out.”