Mike Hamby used to have to drive out to his pumps to check that they were
irrigating his fields as expected. Or pay someone else to spend time doing so.
Since the US mega farmer's land covers a large area, this cost him a lot of
time and money. Today it is a different story. As part of a Grundfos pilot project,
the farmer has added a lot of intelligence to his irrigation equipment, so that
he or his service supplier can closely monitor the pumps' performance from a
"We were able to connect our monitoring equipment to his existing pump and irrigation system and monitor that they were running. We also installed some new sensors along the way, so he could monitor the irrigation pressure and flow," explains Allan Nielsen, Global Product Manager.
He and two colleagues recently visited Mike Hamby on his farm near Nampa, Idaho and therefore had the opportunity to hear direct feedback from the farmer – and his wishes.
"Since we have technology that can be added to his existing systems, we were able to give him what he sought relatively easily," adds Allan Nielsen.
Business in the cloud
The fact that our technology can be used on existing pumps makes it particularly interesting from a business perspective.
"Pumps are pricey, and our pumps are among the most expensive. It therefore means a lot that we can get our foot in the door among farmers without them having to make a very large investment," notes Peter Busch, who is Business Development Manager at Grundfos and has extensive experience with irrigation systems.
But that is just one element. We can also do something with the pump data which is collected. This is sent to 'the cloud', from where the farmer or his service partner can retrieve it.
This is valuable information. Not only can farmers constantly monitor their water consumption and pump performance – warnings can be issued if something in the system is not operating as it should.
"The farmer could subscribe to this information, for example, by paying a small fee each month for the data we collect and make available to him. This would function like a service agreement," adds Peter Busch.
More efficient watering
With the technological upgrades comes the opportunity to use the information collected in order to water more efficiently. This is of particular interest in USA, where water resources are very tight.
"There is an increasing focus on getting as much as possible out of the water – 'more crop per drop'. With this solution, farmers can constantly monitor the pump and potentially ensure that the right quantity of water reaches the right place at the right time," says Thomas Morrison, VP Sales and Business Development, Water Utility in the Americas region.
In addition to the technology to make farmers' irrigation systems more intelligent,
Grundfos also has a full range of pumps, such as SP and VT for water supply,
NB/NK for boosting, and metering pumps to add fertilizer to the water.
"We have the capability to supply complete, intelligent solutions to farmers, and
this is naturally something we strive to do," says Peter Busch.
Three focus countries:
Grundfos has large farms in its sights. USA, Australia and South Africa have so far been highlighted as key markets in this area.
This is where you find mega farmers, some of which are companies virtually as large as Grundfos.
The focus on these markets is bearing fruit, and our agricultural irrigation business grew by 16 per cent in 2014 over the previous year.