Molalla Farm Saves Time and Energy With a New Efficient Irrigation System

efficient irrigation system

Stettler Supply Company has worked with Willamette Valley farmers for more than 75 years. Over time, they have continued to implement innovative strategies and technology to help farmers upgrade to more efficient irrigation systems. Among these customers, Stettler Supply worked alongside Mount Hope Seeds in Molalla to design and install an NRCS-advised, low-pressure boom irrigation system.

NRCS Funds Conservation Efforts

Government organizations like the National Resources Conservation Service (NRSC) have developed numerous incentives and programs to help rural farmers access energy-efficient irrigation equipment. One such program is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides funds for ranchers and farmers through the 2018 Farm Bill to integrate conservation practices.

EQIP partners with farmers one-on-one to develop a tailored conservation plan for their farm. They suggest practices and opportunities that will not only improve the agricultural operations of the farm, but will better conserve natural resources and protect the surrounding environment. Thanks to this program, farmers like Mike Ellis and his father, Bill Ellis, have been able to access funds to dramatically improve the working conditions of their farm and reduce wasted energy, labor, and water.

Big Gun System Wastes Water and Energy

Before working with NRCS and Stettler Supply, Mount Hope Seeds used a big gun and hand lines to water their red clover and tall fescue crops. Their routine involved multiple hours of moving sprinklers and 40 foot chunks of aluminum pipes. “We would have to manually stoop down, move those to each set, and walk our way across the field,” says Mike Ellis. “With it just being me and my dad… it would take us the better part of a week to get across the entire field.” 

Not only did Mount Hope Seeds’ original big gun irrigation system demand the Ellises spend an excessive amount of time and energy shuttling pipe across the field, the inefficient design also wasted water and energy. Nolan Grimm, Stettler Supply’s co-owner and vice president, estimates this original irrigation system lost 30-40% of the water to evaporation. Additionally, the big gun required a high pressure of roughly 90-120 PSI to operate, which necessitated a diesel booster pump. 

Mount Hope Seeds began working with NRCS to identify opportunities to minimize their energy use and limit excessive time and labor costs. They encouraged the Ellises to consider upgrading to a more efficient boom irrigation system. “Initially we thought, there’s no way we can afford this, but the matching funds made it quite competitive with any other system we were looking at,” says Mike. “They connected us with Stettler to get the ball rolling.”

Stettler Supply Installs New Boom Irrigation

After collaborating with NRCS, Mount Hope Seeds teamed up with Stettler Supply to upgrade to a modern, low-pressure boom irrigation system. Unlike the big gun, boom irrigation uses sprinklers spaced every 10 feet, which offers 100% overlap coverage and prevents unnecessary water evaporation. The system is far more energy-efficient as well, operating at roughly 40 PSI without the need for a diesel booster pump. Mount Hope Seeds’ new system also includes a flow meter, pump automation, and reel monitoring.

As for the time commitment, the boom system drastically reduced the Ellis’s manual labor. “Right now, with this system, we can move across [the field] in three pulls of the reel, so three sets,” says Mike. The reel typically necessitates nine hours to cross the field, and each time the Ellises reset the reel for a new set it takes roughly one hour. “We went from spending a week to get water put on—and a lot of backbreaking effort and a lot of time away from other jobs on the farm—to a day and a half to get across the field.”

Mount Hope Seeds is one of many local farms that Stettler Supply has worked with to implement conservation practices and install efficient irrigation systems. To learn more about how Stettler Supply can help your farm save time, energy, and water, contact our team at 503-585-5550.

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