US company Valley Irrigation expands to Kazakhstan and seeks to introduce new irrigation technologies

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NUR-SULTAN – Valley Irrigation, the US-based global leader in irrigation technology, seeks to help Kazakhstan ensure the efficient use of water resources, share cutting-edge technologies with local farmers, and maximize the yields of the country’s agricultural sector, said the regional manager of Valmont Industries. for Europe and Eurasia Ruediger Claas.

Ruediger Claas.

Valmont Industries, owner of Valley Irrigation, has been in the business since 1954 and holds nearly 50 percent of the global market share.

The agreement between the Kazakh government and Nebraska-based Valmont Industries was signed in July. The document is designed to create a network of farms that will showcase advanced irrigation technologies and train local farmers in sound water management.

The deal is also part of the effort to help the country harness its enormous agricultural potential. Agriculture is one of the priority sectors of Kazakhstan, the ninth largest country in the world in terms of land mass, where 75 percent of its territory is suitable for industry and 15 percent of the population is employed in the fields. .

The first step in the partnership was the opening in August of the Valley Training Center and Demonstration Farm at the Barayev Science and Industrial Center for Cereal Cultivation. The main and one of the oldest agricultural centers in the country is located about 60 kilometers from the capital.

“We have to help and try to develop the country completely. We have several field days, teaching days at different universities to make sure people understand what irrigation is and that it is not just a company goal, but that it is important for a farmer to understand the education behind irrigation, how to make sure you benefit from it in the future, ”said Claas.

The government should ensure that farmers have a stable water supply.

“It is essential that the government help ensure that surface and groundwater is available to farmers where they need it and it is only with the help that the government can provide that the farmer will be able to. to irrigate, ”he added.

The goal, he noted, is to help Kazakhstan ensure the correct use of water.

“We put the government in touch with the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska and the University of Mississippi, all of which do research to ensure that water, groundwater, and water surface, are used in the correct manner. to ensure the most optimal and best use for the country not only in the short term, but for the future, to ensure that resources are not cut off, but used continuously, ”Claas said in a statement. exclusive interview for this story.

“They are looking for pilot canal projects, rehabilitated canals, especially in the south. We’re trying to help bring our expertise and also bring in other people from outside to make sure we have the experts who can restore those canals to make sure the water doesn’t drift. At this point, these long canals that come from Uzbekistan use a lot of water on their way, so the majority of [money for the] the water that Kazakhstan pours into Uzbekistan is not used for cultivation, but is simply lost through evaporation, ”he added.

The company will introduce a linear center pivot irrigation system, which guarantees an efficiency level of 85-95%.

“We have a lot of different technologies on how to use water in the most efficient way. When you look at different irrigation methods, you have the flat irrigation method, which is the worst. There are a lot of downsides; one is you just flood the area and have a lot of evaporation. You close the ground because the ground can go up and you just destroy the ground, ”he said.

Drip irrigation is also inappropriate, as it can only be used on small fields and specific crops.

“You put pipes in the roots. There’s a lot of plastic on the ground and at the end of the day it’s a lot more expensive, so the feasibility isn’t even close to what center-pivot irrigation can do, ”he added. .

The system will also allow local farmers to reduce the number of chemicals used to grow plants.

“You can inject directly into a plant that can take up directly and you don’t drain any of those inches off the ground. So the plant gets a small amount, but exactly what it needs and you can grow it more efficiently with less fertilizer used during the year, ”said Claas.

Kazakh agriculture will also benefit from satellite imagery which will provide more detailed digital mapping of the territory. Software and satellite data for space surveillance are provided by Kazakhstan’s Garysh Sapary and the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“They can give you the state of the field, which crop is at what stage, so that you know exactly where you need to apply more fertilizer and in combination with the irrigation system you can bring in the new technology that has took 50 years in America and in a very short step to the country of Kazakhstan, ”Claas said.

Kazakhstan presents a huge opportunity for the company.

“You have a lot of surface water available. We have seen over the past year a stable good deal for us to sell our irrigation equipment. We expect Kazakhstan to increase the number of systems in the country due to the need for food, ”he noted.

Irrigation systems in place will also stimulate agricultural growth.

“This is where irrigation comes in, because you can increase the number of animals in Kazakhstan. Irrigation gives you the ability to grow your food much more efficiently. If you look at corn, potatoes, I would say even in the arid regions of Kazakhstan, without irrigation, you cannot grow them. It is very difficult to quantify how much more you can grow with irrigation systems, ”he added.

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