Volume 15 Issue 2 Feb MT

Talking Water and Resources With Congressman Zinke

By Kris Polly

This month, we interview someone with exceptional experience in water and resources issues: Congressman Ryan Zinke. With his background as a state senator and as the secretary of the interior and his current position on the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Zinke is uniquely placed to share his insights on the management of federal agencies, pending legislation, funding needs, and more.

Sentinel Fertigation is a company that takes a high-level view of irrigated fields. How high? Well, its N‑Time technology analyzes satellite imagery to assess the health of a crop and, on that basis, provides farmers a recommendation about whether or not they need to apply fertilizer. As CEO Jackson Stansell tells us, on-farm trials have demonstrated that N‑Time can save farmers more than 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

Our next article highlights the exciting possibility of spanning canals with solar projects. Ben Lepley, the principal architect at Tectonicus, tells us more about how these projects, several of which are already underway, can create energy, reduce evaporation, and limit algae growth all at the same time.

Then, we speak with Simon Lester of Concrete Canvas about the company’s ingenious concrete-filled fabric, which can be applied to irrigation canals and then easily installed and hardened through hydration, creating a liner that significantly reduces seepage.

Many irrigation technologies rely on accurate measurements of water, including rainfall. In a conversation with Carsten Steenberg, the director of sales for the Americas for Pronamic, we learn about Pronamic’s unique single-spoon rain gauges, which it sells directly to major equipment manufacturers.

With artificial intelligence an increasingly hot topic, many in the irrigation industry are wondering how it can help them. California-based landscape irrigation company Calsense is pioneering one approach: Its products will now feature a built-in digital assistant, Cal, that can automatically answer user questions. Director of Commercial Operations Mike Haldane tells us more.

Grange Enterprises offers service, support, and sales to growers concentrated in the Central Valley of California. Pat Biddy and Matthew Sani, the company’s cofounders, tell us about how they are using their deep familiarity with the region and its agricultural industry to help bring local farmers success.

We also look at an exciting new venture: the Wyoming Association of Irrigation Districts. Ryan Allen, the watermaster at the Goshen Irrigation District and a founding board member of the new association, tells us about the motivation behind its formation, its mission, and its top issues.

Irrigated agriculture has benefited from ingenious innovations in the past, ranging from center pivots to telemetry, and the pace of change shows no signs of slowing. I hope this issue of Irrigation Leader helps you keep up to date with the exciting changes that are coming to our industry.

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 kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.