… The key is ease of use …
The Toro name has been around for almost 100 years, but FFVA trade associate member Toro Micro-Irrigation is a relatively recent development. The Toro Motor Company was founded in 1914 to build tractor engines for the Bull Tractor Company of Minneapolis, a firm that sold more farm tractors than any other brand but had trouble finding a reliable source of engines. Toro was an independent company at the time, but chose the Toro name as a nod to its association with Bull Tractor.
Over the years, Toro bought out Bull Tractor and survived through good times, the Great Depression and wars by filling the manufacturing needs of the day, whether it was World War I steam engines, mowers for golf courses, snow blowers or farm tractors.
Through two acquisitions in 1996 and 1997, the company got into the micro-irrigation business.
Micro-irrigation, also known as drip irrigation, is used on farms and in nurseries, greenhouses and landscaping. It’s been around for decades, but in recent years demand and recognition have grown.
What is micro-irrigation and how does it work?
Drip irrigation allows for targeted application of water to prevent runoff, leaching and wetting of non-targeted areas. Water isn’t wasted on leaves, tree trunks or non-planted areas.
Drip systems consist of emission devices serviced by a water distribution network that ideally includes control zone equipment. At the water source, water is controlled with automatic valves, where it is delivered to emission devices through pipes. Then the emission device – drip tape, drip emitter, jet or micro-sprinkler – delivers water and nutrients to the soil so that the roots take up the proper amount of water at the proper times.
Toro offers many different systems to suit the needs of the farmer.
Why use micro-irrigation?
“Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of irrigating crops, and as such many growers look to it to help solve water quality and quantity availability issues,” said Claude Corcos, Toro micro-irrigation’s marketing manager. “The primary reason growers continue to buy and drip irrigation is yield. And that yield is achieved because drip irrigation targets the root zone and allows growers to maintain optimal soil moisture levels during the growing season. It enables them to apply fertilizers and other crop protection compounds directly through the irrigation system exactly when the plant needs it without wasting water or anything that’s in the water,” Corcos said.
Who uses what kind of system?
“The Toro Aqua Traxx® drip tape system is designed for either annual or multi-year use for crops such as strawberries, onions, and peppers,” said Corcos. “And we offer a full line of accessories to make sure the drip tape works properly. It’s also used in subsurface applications where growers bury it and expect it to be in the ground and working from between seven and 15 years.
Those crops are typically corn, cotton, processing tomatoes and alfalfa,” Corcos said.
“We also offer systems – Blue Line™ product dripline and Blue Stripe™ hose, along with a number of emission devices such as meters jets and micro-sprinklers – for a whole host of permanent crops such as grapevines, nuts and tree fruit. For citrus we have Blue Stripe hose, and into that you can insert a jet or a micro-sprinkler,” Corcos said. “There’s actually an emerging trend in citrus to use double line drip – one line of drip line on either side of the tree. And we make our Blue Line product for that application as well.”
Focus on ease of installation and use
A precise and well-engineered product is great, but the buyer must be able to put a system together and get it to work properly. Toro Micro-Irrigation sees to it that its customers do just that.
“For larger growers, we can send someone out there to assist with the installation,” said Corcos. “We have what we call our Grower Connection Team. They work with individual growers to help them get the most from their systems. We also have an outstanding owner’s manual that really helps some of those smaller growers we’re not able to connect with on a direct basis, to be equally successful with the implementation of a drip irrigation system.” Corcos also points out that Toro’s dealers do a great job of helping with the tech support. “But we felt it was incumbent on the company to provide tools to help growers be successful on their own even without dealer support,” he said.
What’s the latest?
One of the areas Toro Micro-Irrigation continues to expand is pressure compensating devices. To allow drip tape to deliver uniform amounts of water to all areas of a field that may be hilly or incorporate long rows, the company has developed pressure compensating technology so that the growers can use the drip tape in places where earlier systems would not function.
“Drip tape, traditionally, has not been pressure compensating,” Corcos said. “So the uniformity was not there on hilly terrain or very long rows. “With the new technology growers get the same precise, uniform pressure coverage in challenging terrain as they do in flat fields or short rows,” he said.
“Our focus is helping growers achieve optimum results, and we deliver products that are as precise as we can make them but also easy to use,” said Corcos. “There are a lot of companies that make drip irrigation components, but our focus is quality technology that is easy for farmers to use.”
Learn more about Toro Micro-Irrigation here.