The Equipment Issue

By Kris Polly

To build and maintain large networks of canals, laterals, and pipelines spanning many miles of territory, irrigation districts rely on fleets of vehicles and heavy equipment, which they must successfully and cost-effectively acquire, maintain, keep track of, and retire. This month, we focus on those assets. 

First, we speak with Nicky Hyslop, a South Island farmer who served as the former chair of Irrigation New Zealand and currently serves as a director of Beef+Lamb New Zealand and Ravensdown, about the importance of irrigation and the possible benefits of more multiuse community water storage. 

Turning to equipment, we speak with Bryce Evans, the co-owner of Missouri-based Evans Equipment, which acquires good-quality late-model heavy equipment from around the world, strips it down in most cases to the bare frame, and rebuilds it. Buying rehabilitated equipment from Evans can save customers 40–50 percent of the cost of new machines. Next, we speak with Bill Fuchs, the owner of Maximized Water Management and the inventor of the Aquatic Vegetation Rake, an excavator-mounted tool that quickly and effectively removes waterweeds from canals. What’s it actually like to drive Caterpillar’s D11 bulldozer, the largest one it manufactures? We talk to Chris Crow of Kennewick Irrigation District to find out. We also talk with Hamish Howard, the CEO and managing director of New Zealand–based Assura Software, about his company’s asset-management solutions, which are used by several irrigation districts. 

Next, we feature a series of short interviews with professionals from irrigation districts across the nation and the world about how they acquire, maintain, and manage their vehicles and heavy equipment. Our interviewees are Troy Allen, the general manager of Delta Lake Irrigation District in Edcouch, Texas; Jerry Gibbens, the director of operations of Northern Water, based in Berthoud, Colorado; José Nuncio, the president of the Sorraia Valley Irrigators and Water Users Association, based in Coruche, Portugal; John O’Callaghan, the secretary/manager of the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District in Pasco, Washington; Gerry Sheets, the general manager of the Middle Loup Public Power and Irrigation District in Arcadia, Nebraska; and Patrick Sullivan, the treasurer-manager of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Lyndon Vogt, the general manager of Nebraska’s Central Platte Natural Resource District, and Darren Cudaback, a conservation specialist with Precision Conservation Management, tell us about their partnership to help local growers with their water management practices. 

Finally, we bring you a heartwarming story about how Reinke Manufacturing and Holdrege Irrigation built a one-fifth-scale center-pivot system for Blaize DeGroff, a 9‑year‑old boy from Ord, Nebraska. 

Finding, purchasing, maintaining, and retiring vehicles and heavy equipment are crucial tasks for irrigation districts. I hope that comparing your practices to those of the professionals we interview this month will give you new ideas and help you optimize your own practices. 

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