Bulgarian Dairy Farm Turns to Pivot Irrigation
Nov 18, 2022
ET Diana MI, a dairy and cattle operation in Bulgaria, was founded with a love for animals, nature and crops. It is something owner Mincho Ivanov continues to be passionate about to this day. From how clean the livestock operation is to how he’s advancing his irrigation efficiency; Ivanov is leading the way for other farmers and agriculture operations in his country.
His operation includes 3,212 acres (1,300 ha) of farm ground and 3,000 head of cattle—1,300 of which are milking cows. In fact, ET Diana MI is a dairy supplier for Danone, which includes some of the world’s most recognized dairy (and non-dairy) brands like Oikos, Activia, International Delight and Russia’s Prostokvashino. To meet the supply-demand, ET Diana MI produces on average about 35 kg (1,234 oz) of milk per cow daily, or 11,500 liters (3,037 gallons) per cow annually.
One thing Ivanov has learned over the years is the value of trusted partners and reliable products. His formula for success, when it comes to his livestock and achieving a prosperous farm, combines the quality and durability of Zimmatic™ with the expertise and collaboration of AgroConsult Irrigation, his local Zimmatic dealer.
“My partnership with AgroConsult has made my operation more successful. Their many years of experience make a huge difference,” says Ivanov.
Creating a more efficient irrigation system
Today, Ivanov uses both flood and pivot irrigation systems on his operation. 617 acres (250 ha) of flooded irrigation and 494 acres (200 ha) of pivot irrigation to be exact. However, this wasn’t always the case.
In 2014, Ivanov worked with AgroConsult Irrigation to evaluate and enhance his irrigation efficiency. Ultimately, he decided to make the switch from flood to pivot irrigation for key areas of his land, investing in four Zimmatic pivots and adding a fifth pivot in 2022.
“A big drought we faced convinced me to keep investing in pivot irrigation,” he says. “And the yield difference between pivot and flood irrigation is more significant during dry years.”
These pivots work by pulling water from a large artificial lake called Jrebchevo, which was created to irrigate over 24,000 acres (9,712 ha) of land 50 years ago during the communism time. Today, the water is transferred through a 4-mile-long (6.4 km) open channel before entering a tunnel that is 6.5 yards (6 meters) around dug into the mountain. Ivanov’s irrigation system then uses that difference in elevation to achieve 12 bars in pressure at the entrance of the pivots, skipping the need for any water pumps.
“I will keep developing pivot irrigation as far as technically possible, but I will do it step by step,” says Ivanov.
Benefiting from pivot irrigation
With the addition of Zimmatic pivots, FieldNET technology and the ongoing support of AgroConsult Irrigation, Ivanov has seen a big return on his investment.
1. Water savings
On average, the cost of water in Bulgaria is $40 per ha (2.5 acres) for pivot irrigation. For flood irrigation, it can be double that price. To ensure no drop of water (or money) is wasted, Ivanov has combined the precision of his Zimmatic pivots with the data and technology of FieldNET™ with WaterTrend℠ to help better match crop and water needs.
“When you buy a pivot, FieldNET is a must,” he says. “And WaterTrend is a great feature. I was really impressed to see the crop water consumption of the corn during very hot and dry weeks. Without it, I would not have applied as much water as recommended—and I would have lost some yield.”
2. Labor savings
While the flooded irrigation portions of Ivanov’s land require 10 workers, he only needs one to manage his pivot irrigation system. FieldNET remote irrigation management capabilities allow him to check in on his operation from anywhere and manage his pivots and data with a tap. Which gives him more time to take care of other parts of his business and life.
“You can operate your system remotely and keep control of your operation. It is becoming even more critical now considering the challenges to find workers in the field,” he notes.
3. Productivity boosts
Another benefit of pivot over flood irrigation is crop production and flexibility. Ivanov can produce two crops under his pivots in the same year, while flooded irrigation only allows for one main crop at a time.
In fact, Ivanov harvested his first crop of triticale for hay at the end of May and his second crop of corn silage at the end of September, which then goes to feed his cattle—essentially, making his farm fully independent.
If you’re ready to grow your irrigation operation or increase irrigation efficiency, our network of Zimmatic dealers is here to help. Come see what’s possible for your farm’s future today—and be even more ready for the next season!