The collaboration sets the course to provide growers with autonomous crop management solutions generating greater returns, while requiring fewer production inputs and resources.
"Valley Irrigation is transforming the centre pivot from solely an irrigation machine to an autonomous crop management tool,” Stephen G Kaniewski, president and CEO of Valmont, commented.
“Water remains our focus, as it is the number one determinant of crop yield. Growers who use pivots have a natural advantage to use them as often as needed, given their constant placement on the field,” Kaniewski added.
This exclusive global partnership is significant because it integrates artificial intelligence technologies with centre pivot irrigation. Valley Irrigation leads the industry with more than 60,000 connected devices globally and carries distribution strength through the industry's largest network of more than 500 dealers worldwide.
Autonomous crop management will result in a self-learning machine, using inputs from the field and the grower to deliver proper water, fertigation and chemigation. Launching in the spring of 2019, Anomaly Detection is a fundamental building block for growers entering into AI functionality. Providing visual detection of anomalies or issues, this technology provides essential features to mitigate risks in the field, assisting the grower with their irrigation and crop management practices. It will be available from Valley for all brands of pivots through a subscription-based model.
Kaniewski said that launching specific technology products to the market and product adoption are two critical steps on the journey toward autonomous crop management. The joint machine-learning technology is targeted to reach one million acres by 2020. To develop the technology, the two companies collectively plan to invest more than US$40mn million over the next three years.