Pitcher’s Mound assesses new irrigation products

Turf and Rec Staff
February 08, 2017
By Turf and Rec Staff
The Irrigation Association’s version of ABC’s popular reality TV show “Shark Tank,” Pitcher’s Mound, debuted at the recent 2016 Irrigation Show and Education Conference. Pitcher’s Mound was designed as an avenue to help inventors, entrepreneurs and business people in the irrigation arena bring new products to market.

Six entrepreneurs each had 10 minutes to present his product to a panel of umpires, earning either a “home run,” “base hit” or “strikeout” based on how they felt the product would do on the market.

Though the all-star cast of umpires did not always agree on their perceived success of the product, the participants all acknowledged the constructive feedback as beneficial.

The umpires for the event included Mike Mason, chief executive officer of Weathermatic and sponsor for the event; David Zoldoske, EdD, director of Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State University; Rob Sampson, national water management engineer for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Warren Thoma, president of Warren Thoma & Associates, LLC; and Greg Hunter, president of Hunter Industries and the new
IA president.

According to Mason, this inaugural event was a “home run.” Mason has committed to a multi-year Pitcher’s Mound sponsorship. “The Pitcher’s Mound is a great source for acquiring technology or partnering with the brightest minds and talent in our industry,” he said.

Jeff Moskal kicked off the event with his presentation of the Evaluator Pro, a smartphone/tablet app specific for landscape and irrigation companies. The Evaluator Pro allows users to create PDF proposals within seconds using irrigation-specific drop-down menus to generate proposals.

“The intent is to help a contractor go paperless and save time in responding to customers,” Moskal said.

Bret Berry and Bert Sacket teamed up for the second presentation of the day as they introduced the H20 Flow Pro, a wireless “smart” flow monitoring system that allows for real-time monitoring of water flow. This system learns the flow rate and can communicate with a controller interface to suspend irrigation for any station where excess flow is detected. The H20 Flow Pro allows real time data to be accessed via Wi-Fi with any connected device giving the irrigation manager information to make management decisions.

The third pitcher was Bill Hurst. Hurst introduced the ValveCommander by Colt Irrigation, LLC as the world’s first AC latching solenoid that can operate from 24 to 120 volts. The ValveCommander saves wire and energy and enables variable rate control for centre pivot machines.

Rick Hansen took the mound next and presented the AirWave by Apitome, LLC. This plant/flower bed multi-nozzle device is built to replace/retrofit traditional nozzles on pop-up spray head bodies or fixed risers as demonstrated by Hansen during the presentation of the product. The AirWave allows for easy directional application of water where needed.

The fifth pitcher of the day was Jim Etro who introduced the Hawk-Eye Systems by ItriCorp, a visual and thermal-image data collection system that measures and highlights crop stress and creates indexes to communicate crop stress and water need. This fully autonomous, 24/7, system can interface with irrigation equipment and communicates field conditions that need attention via text messaging with the
crop manager.

Thomas Deane was the closer for IA’s first ever Pitcher’s Mound. Deane presented the Drip Decoupling Tool by LucyCo, a new, patent-pending tool that can easily remove drip tubing from compression-type fittings reducing labour and allowing the fittings to be reused. -

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