Loyd Ratts first began irrigating his farm fields in 1973 and said he's better much seen every type of irrigation evolve.
"We had to hand move flood irrigation pipes by hand at first, then we moved them with tractors," he says. "When pivots became common, it was a big improvement but they could still get stuck in the mud or stop moving when they were out of sight."
Two years ago, Ratts lost his center pivot irrigation system to a severe storm, he decided to replace it with the latest, best technology he could find.
He replaced his pivot with a new Zimmatic center pivot and equipped it with Lindsey Corp.'s FieldNET system.
The fully automated system allows him to monitor and control his center pivot from his smart phone or his Apple laptop computer, both of which the 101-year-old farmer handles with ease.
He said he loves the technology in his new FieldNET system.
"I just bring it up the app, put in a couple of simple commands on my computer or my phone and I can see exactly what the pivot is doing," he said. "I can go visit my sonr in Colorado or my daughter in Florida and I can still see exactly what is going on with the pivot here in Stafford County. I can turn the pivot off if it's raining or if there is wind in the forecast I can turn it on and add water to the lines to give it more weight. And I can do all that from my chair at home or from hundreds of miles away. That is just amazing."
Indeed it is, especially when you consider that Ratts has been around to see horses and steam-powered threshers give way to tractors, then self-propelled combines and climate controlled cabs, GPS and unmanned aerial vehicles to measure the growth and health of crops with infrared photography.
He has embraced technology each step of the way for his farming operation which includes wheat, corn, soybeans, sorghum and sunflowers.
He said he has been more fortunate than many western Kansas growers because he has a good water supply and his wells have only dropped a few feet in all the years he has been irrigating.
"That doesn't mean I am not always thinking about how to conserve water and how to use less," he said. "I am always looking for technology that will help with that."