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Valley Insights uses AI to identify irrigation needs

Valley Irrigation launches Valley Insights, which uses AI to detect crop health and irrigation concerns.

Valley Insights is the result of the partnership between Valley Irrigation and Prospera, which was announced earlier this year.

According to Valley Irrigation, the Valley Insights limited release “has demonstrated successful results this growing season, turning data into useful, actionable information for growers in Washington and Nebraska. The service has exceeded expectations by already reaching its targeted goal of one million acres by 2020.”

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Autonomous crop management

Valley Insights is designed to move growers closer to autonomous crop management, generating greater returns while using fewer inputs and resources. Using computer vision, the service scouts to identify areas of over- or under-irrigation and related plant stress.

Valley says it goes beyond typical aerial imaging, using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the visual data, detect issues and alert the grower so proper actions can be taken.

Troy Long, Senior Director of Product Management for Valley Irrigation:

Valley Insights analyses the images and alerts growers to possible crop threats before they become big problems

“Our initial release has been focused in the Northwest, where a late winter created a challenging season for growers,” says Troy Long, Senior Director of Product Management for Valley Irrigation. “They would have been hard pressed for time to sift through stacks of aerial images provided by other services, searching for potential irrigation-related issues. Valley Insights analyses the images and alerts growers to possible crop threats before they become big problems. It has saved our users a lot of valuable time they can now dedicate elsewhere.”

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The 2019 Valley Insights interface on a laptop and on  a mobile device. The tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the visual data, detect issues and alert the grower so proper actions can be taken. - Photos Valley Irrigation
The 2019 Valley Insights interface on a laptop and on a mobile device. The tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the visual data, detect issues and alert the grower so proper actions can be taken. - Photos Valley Irrigation

Henry Boersma, who grows diversified row crops outside of Moses Lake, WA, began piloting Valley Insights this season. He says his crops are already benefitting from the technology.

Another eye in the field

“When Valley Insights identifies under-watering in certain sectors and alerts us that sprinklers appear to be plugged on certain spans, that’s exactly what’s happening,” he says. “We have another eye in the field, so we can identify issues and make corrections long before we could see stress on our crops with the naked eye. We can fix minor issues before they become major problems, which saves us both time and money.”

Water restriction

More and more, growers are also contending with increased resource restriction. In a changing climate, water restriction represents the new normal for growers across the country, and AI-enabled technologies like Valley Insights are helping them maintain yields while using fewer resources.

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Valley Insights mobile interface providing a notification of a plugged sprinkler with details.
Valley Insights mobile interface providing a notification of a plugged sprinkler with details.

Thad Taylor, Sales Manager of Lad Irrigation South, says his customers used Valley Insights to do everything from programming a variable rate irrigation (VRI) table to improving water application.

Even application

“One of my customers has very little water allocated to his operation,” he says. “By using Valley Insights, he makes sure his crops get an even application. He’s able to fix issues with his irrigation equipment promptly so he’s not wasting his limited supply of water.”

Valley has integrated user feedback from the limited release of Valley Insights cin order to enhance the service prior to additional expansion in 2020.

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