The Hard Work of Local Farmers, Small Schemes, and Family Businesses

By Kris Polly

Andy Hayes is a fifth-generation farmer in the Waitaki District of New Zealand’s South Island. In addition to running his farm, he is the chair of Haka Valley Irrigation Ltd. (HVIL), a small irrigation scheme, and a director of the Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC), which promotes the interest of local schemes and independent offtakers. In our cover interview, he gives us insight into the hard work of local farmers and small-scale irrigators.

This year, Nebraska’s national resources districts (NRDs) are celebrating a half-century of achievements in soil and water conservation work with open houses, events, and more, as we learn in our cover interview with Dean Edson, the executive director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD), and Jim Eschliman, the president of the NARD’s board of directors.

For nearly four decades, the Michigan-based company AgroLiquid has provided liquid fertilizer and agronomic expertise for a wide variety of crops as well as conducting its own research. We learn more about this family company in our interview with cofounder Troy Bancroft.

Krah USA, based in Prineville, Oregon, uses German-designed technology to make exceptionally large and durable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe. We speak with co-CEOs Midge Graybeal and Mark Theetge and consultant Marc Thalacker, the manager of the Three Sisters Irrigation District in Oregon, about Krah USA’s offerings for the irrigation market.

Tech company Moleaer has created a novel aeration system that injects water with millions of miniscule bubbles thousands of times smaller than a grain of salt. To see how Moleaer’s solution can benefit the irrigation industry, we interview Joe Coelho, the agronomy manager of Maricopa Orchards in Fresno, California, who is testing a Moleaer system.

Rob Welke is an Australian water professional and energy efficiency expert who has launched a Pumping System Master Class designed to help irrigators put precise numbers on the energy use of their pumping systems. Mr. Welke tells us more about the advantages of the class and how interested irrigators can sign up.

Vicky Scharlau is serving as the interim executive director of Washington State’s Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation, known as AgForestry. She tells us about AgForestry’s work to train natural resources leaders for the state and about its plans for the future.

We also hear from Jim Crain, the president of Anchor Trucking Services Inc., a family company that delivers heavy off-road equipment and machinery from coast to coast and recently transported rehabilitated construction equipment to Kennewick Irrigation District in central Washington State.

Finally, we check in with Juliann Blanford of small modular hydro manufacturer NuSTREEM about the company’s offerings for New Zealand irrigation districts.

In addition to highlighting the achievements of the NRDs and featuring new technology, I am proud to bring you stories this month of several independent and family-run businesses. The ingenuity and hard work of individuals has always been a core component of the success and resilience of the irrigated agriculture sector. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and the president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at