Volume 15 Issue 2 Feb WA

An Experienced Advocate

By Kris Polly

With experience in the state government, the state legislature, and numerous industry associations, Mike Schwisow is perfectly positioned to be an advocate for Washington State irrigated agriculture. Today, he is a lobbyist and the owner of Schwisow & Associates, representing the Washington State Water Resources Association, the Columbia Basin Development League, the three Columbia Basin Project irrigation districts, and others. Our conversation with Mr. Schwisow takes a closer look at his work and its benefits for the industry.

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.

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.