Zimmatic Blog

Inspirational Texas Grower Faces Challenges with Unwavering Determination

Oct 28, 2020

For most growers, remote irrigation monitoring and control technology makes farming easier. For Texas grower Ray Johnston, it makes farming possible.

Johnston has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurological disorder which attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, it causes muscle weakness and, eventually, paralysis.

For Johnston, the diagnosis hit hard. A proud Army and National Guard veteran, he and his wife have been married for almost 30 years. They have six children. Before he got sick, he owned and operated a diesel repair shop, and he loved to work in the fields on his farm near Plainview, Texas.

ALS has taken a lot from Johnston - including his ability to walk and talk. But, while the disease has forced him out of the fields, he refuses to let it force him out of farming.

“I’ve owned the farm for about 10 years. I love it,” he said. “We grow cotton and wheat - irrigated with a Zimmatic pivot that’s equipped with FieldNET®. With this technology, I can still manage my irrigation system - even with me being disabled.”

FieldNET allows Johnston to monitor and control his system with a smartphone, tablet or computer - at anytime, from anywhere. Using FieldNET technology, he can view the pivot’s current position, start/stop/change the machine’s direction and much more. If there’s a potential problem, he gets an alert, which allows him to quickly dispatch someone to take a look.

“For me, one of the biggest benefits is being able to check my flow meter, so I can give my well a rest when it needs it,” he said. “FieldNET has all the features I need to continue managing my system… to keep farming - and that’s really important to me.”

There currently is no cure for ALS. For more information about the disease and how you can help support critical research, visit ALS.org.