Traveling irrigation system manufacturer Kifco and CODA Farm Technologies have formed a partnership to bring CODA’s FarmHQ retrofit cellular device and mobile app that provide real-time remote monitoring and control, including automatic pump shutdown, to Kifco Ag-Rain Water-Reels.
Under the partnership, Kifco will offer FarmHQ as a pre-installed option on their new water reels. Kifco will also work with its network of dealers and sales representatives in North America to sell FarmHQ to current users of Kifco Ag-Rain Water-Reels.
A universal retrofit option, FarmHQ is a small cellular device and app that lets users of irrigation reels and pumps upgrade their irrigation equipment with one simple installation and put them all on the same monitoring and control system, providing significant financial savings and less stress. FarmHQ works anywhere a smartphone does and provides status updates in real time. Compatible with all irrigation reels regardless of size or age, it instantly updates equipment with brand new features.
- Smaller farm tracts in the valley and elsewhere irrigate their land using the “traveling sprinkler” method. The labor-intensive approach uses a sprinkler on wheels that is slowly pulled across a field by a reel at one end. The sprinkler is connected to a pump and a well, and as it’s pulled, it waters the field at a set rate.
- The trouble is that the reel can malfunction and stop moving, flooding an area until a farmer physically visits a field and notices the problem. And when the sprinkler has finished a field, someone needs to manually turn off the pump.
- So the Wallace brothers developed an IoT platform that uses sensors and devices placed on the sprinkler reels and pumps that can automatically shut off the water when the reel stops. Cellular signals share the information to a dashboard that lets a farmer remotely check the sprinklers.
- The Wallaces are joining the surge in research and startups in the field of precision agriculture and ag tech. But some of the developments in the sector have been less tangible, focused on monitoring and data-driven insights that emphasize cost savings and yield benefits down the road. When David tells people he’s working on a cloud-connected product for agriculture, “some farmers will kind of roll their eyes,” he said.
- That’s until he explains his labor-saving application.
- “They get it immediately,” he said. “They know what it is like to wake up in the middle of the night to check on the reel and the pump.”
- Lav Khot, a WSU associate professor in precision agriculture, agreed that it’s helpful to connect monitoring inputs with a direct response.
- “With IoT, if we integrate meaningful technology, we can monitor and manage things together effectively,” he said. Khot is working on sensors that measure heat stress in apples, which could trigger automatic sprinklers to turn on and off to cool the fruit.
Once farmers complete the easy installation, FarmHQ constantly monitors the status and speed of their irrigation reels: tracking run progress, watching for equipment failures, and letting them know when problems occur. When the reel stops retracting for any reason, FarmHQ automatically sends a shutdown signal to the pump. The FarmHQ mobile app and online dashboard gives farmers easy access to this status information and detailed irrigation records.
“We’re excited to partner with a respected and trusted name in irrigation like Kifco to bring our technology to more farmers, and help them save money and stress,” said David Wallace, CEO of CODA Farm Technologies. “Based on the huge demand we’ve seen for FarmHQ from farmers who want to simplify their irrigation work, it was clear that working with an industry leader like Kifco was the right step. With this new partnership, we are building a foundation to grow our customer base and product offerings in the years to come.”
FarmHQ devices installed on irrigation reels and pumps provide a 400% to 1,500% annual return on investment through savings on labor, water, fuel and prevented crop damage. Each FarmHQ system saves up to $15,000 per season by preventing damage to high-value crops, eliminates up to 75 hours of labor, decreases energy costs by up to $650, and conserves up to 500,000 gallons of water each year.
CODA Farm Technologies’ FarmHQ devices are already on farms across eight different states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada. In the 2021 irrigation season, the company’s devices monitored over 16,500 irrigated acres, saved approximately 21 million gallons of water, and prevented countless accidental flooding events that would have caused costly damage to customers’ crops.
In January, CODA Farm Technologies announced a $2.2 million investment round led by Lowercarbon Capital, with Voyager Capital, Arnold Venture Group and Will Canine, co-founder of Opentrons Labworks, as the other major participants.
CODA Farm Technologies was founded by brothers Connor and David Wallace, third-generation potato farmers in Washington’s Skagit Valley.
Top: The CODA Farm Technologies founding team from left to right: Connor Wallace, CTO; Gabe Martin, lead hardware engineer; David Wallace, CEO; Dan Oschrin, lead software engineer. Photo: CODA Farm Technologies