R.D. Offutt Becker Farm hosts Irrigation Association of Minnesota summer tour

On Friday, July 29, 2022, the R.D. Offutt Farm Team in Becker, Minn. hosted more than 60 people for the annual Irrigators Association of Minnesota (IAM) summer field tour.

Minnesota state legislators, agency and congressional staff members, public officials, IAM and industry members attended the event, touring an RDO field with a top-of-the-line center pivot irrigation system, learning about the latest irrigation research at the University of Minnesota Sand Plain Research Farm and hearing about the economics behind irrigated agriculture from local processor, Michaels Foods.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen provided an update on agricultural issues around the state and members from Central Lakes College brought the AgCentric Trailer and new irrigation model for participants to experience.

Jake Wildman, IAM President, said the event went well and he’s heard positive feedback.

“As irrigators, it’s important to share our story so policy makers and members of the public better understand how precise technology has become,” Wildman said.

Tom Heyn, RDO Regional Manager, joined Trisha Mitzel, Prospera Territory Manager, to demonstrate irrigation features at the RDO field.

Heyn said Aqua Trac provides soil moisture data, the Valley Scheduling program recommends where, when and how much to irrigate and new camera technology collects and analyzes all kinds of data – right down to detecting Colorado potato beetles or other problematic issues that could affect potato plants.

“We can monitor and operate our irrigators from our smart phones and adjust as needed with changing weather conditions,” Heyn said. “All in all, new irrigation technology is allowing us to make smarter decisions to precisely water and care for our crop.”

Warren Warmbold, RDO Vice President of Farm Operations, said partnerships with IAM, the University of Minnesota and other industry groups are helpful in sharing the message that irrigated agriculture is critical in meeting the country's food production needs.

"Farmers irrigate more than 500,000 acres across Minnesota and we are doing it smarter every year," Warmbold said. "Advances in technology have improved our ability to customize irrigation, giving each field exactly the amount of water it needs, helping us to preserve groundwater supplies while maintaining farm profitability."