Potato Grower

July 2018

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WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 17 Today, Atchley's operation has 30 center pivots from Valley Irrigation irrigating 4,000 of his acres. "It took a few years to make circles work on hills, too," he admits with a chuckle. "Pivots can control the quality. As we learned how to use pivots, we could raise a better quality of potato—a prettier potato." The same gullies that spring runoff and hard rains can create are also a risk with pivot tracks, Atchley says, "but if you keep the soil loosened up, it's not generally a problem." Attractive potatoes aside, the hills Atchley's pivots have to climb can be ugly. "Some of them are at least 40 degrees," Atchley says. In fact, their harvesting equipment doesn't work going up the steepest hills. "We have to harvest going downhill on some fields." The pivots Atchley purchased in 1982 continue to work well. He worked with Trent Angell of Golden West Irrigation, a Valley dealer in Rexburg, Idaho, to modify his pivots. "We worked together to put three-wheel drives on the pivots that wouldn't have the traction to handle the terrain," Atchley says. In addition, most of Atchley's pivots need spans of 146 feet and shorter because, Angell says, their undertrussing and nozzles would drag on longer spans as they went over hills. The angle of incline isn't the only challenge Atchley's operation faces due to the often harsh landscape; one 120-foot span crosses a deep canal. Another wades through a shallow lake, which "took a bit of engineering to make work." These factors could add up to potential difficulties and damaging downtime, so to monitor his pivots, Atchley's operation employs remote management technology and GPS tracking. "We can check the pivots on computers and cell phones," he says. "New technology can be great." Nearly every one of Clen Atchley's 30 pivots has at least some steep terrain to negotiate. An Uphill Climb

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