Date: May 01, 2014
May 2014 Irrigation Advances

It was 1934 when a local entrepreneur started a Bakersfield, CA, company to help fill the equipment needs of the booming oil industry.  Western Oilfields Supply Company (WOSCO) provided such items as pipe, fittings, rags, nails, hatchets, and used boilers.

As the firm’s business grew, its product list also expanded and it soon was supplying the needs of local farmers.  By 1948, WOSCO launched the Rain For Rent brand for its irrigation equipment division.  Though the company has morphed over the years — today it operates in almost a dozen industries — the core concept of providing the liquid hardware needs for industry is still in play.  It manufactures its own aluminum pipe and acts as a dealer for many of the top irrigation equipment manufacturers throughout the world.  The Rain For Rent moniker has become its company-wide corporate identity.

“In the agricultural division, our customers are the growers, farmers and ranchers in our service areas,” said Dave Gray, regional division sales manager for Rain For Rent, who oversees ag operations in eight branches located in California, Arizona and Idaho.

Each branch has a retail store for the rental, leasing and sales of the equipment as well as a cadre of professional engineers who can design solutions for the irrigation needs of those customers

As to be expected, Gray said lack of water is top of mind this year, and the company’s products designed for well drilling are pulling double duty.  He said Rain For Rent doesn’t actually drill wells, but it does offer a turbine pump that is used in well drilling operations.

He added that the company’s experts are also doing overtime helping farmers and ranchers traverse this year’s irrigation problems.  He said each branch has an in-house emergency drought team that is assessing the situation on a regional basis and offering advice where appropriate.

Gray said every situation is different and each situation has to be analyzed on its own merits.  “There is no one answer,” he said.

For example, he said in some situations drip is more efficient than sprinkler irrigation, but there are many other crop applications where sprinkler irrigation offers a more efficient system.  Universally, however, he said a grower looking for water efficiencies is smart to start with an analysis of their own system.  “There are a lot of old irrigation systems out there,” he said, indicating that if a system is many years old, it is quite likely there are more efficient systems on the market.  Sprinkler technology, for example has improved tremendously over the past decade.

When confronted with a challenge, Gray said the Rain For Rent engineers will look at the overall design of an irrigation system and make recommendations based on the needs of the crops the grower is trying to produce.  “This year, everyone is trying to figure out how they can manage with less water.” He said.  “It is a very difficult challenge.  It depends entirely on where you are and what you are growing.”

Of course, permanent crops, such as nuts, trees and vines are going to be taken care of first with growers fallowing land that they just don’t have water for.  “Our sources tell us that 500,000 to 800,000 acres will be fallowed this year (in the San Joaquin Valley).  They just don’t have the water to plant.”

While it seems like a dire situation, Gray says growers should contact experts like those at Rain For Rent for advice as well as equipment.  “We’ve been here before and we’ve been through this before.  We have established best practices and we do have the right products for growers in every situation.”

As a practical matter he said the drought has led to longer rent times for pipe as this past spring growers have had to extend their opportunity to pre-irrigate their land.  In addition he said everyone is looking for the most efficient pump and filtration systems available.

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