“We do not quit.” Those are the words that Madison McDonald lives by. Her father, Dale, who instilled that phrase within her, has been there every step of the way through her journey – in school, fields and national science competitions.
Madison’s hard work and passion recently resulted in a 1st-place finish in the National FFA Contest. Her assignment focused on researching two Valley Irrigation remote management technologies that are critical for conserving resources and maximizing yields.
For her project, Madison evaluated the Valley SchedulingTM and AgSense® mobile apps. Each program has different capabilities and can be used together in Valley 365® or separately.
“AgSense gets data every hour and Valley Scheduling receives data every two hours,” Madison said. “The technology for Valley Scheduling runs off an equation that tells the farmer exactly how much to irrigate to keep the soil moisture profiles where they need to be.” AgSense, she explained, receives highly accurate soil moisture data but does not make specific irrigation recommendations. Her research showed that while each app can equip growers with data for smarter decisions, they work best when integrated together as part of Valley 365.
Competition in a Pandemic Madison’s father was a Valley Dealer for over six years and was a helping hand throughout all of her projects and learning. He gave her tips and tricks from a farmer’s point of view, helping her to understand each kind of technology and procedure.
“He is my best friend and also my mentor. He helped me come up with the projects and collaborate with people that made this project possible,” Madison said.
For the contest itself, a pandemic brought change to the competition. Previous years consisted of an interview and report, but with social distancing, the journey was marked by what she could bring to a Zoom meeting, not an in-person evaluation.
“Competing at the state level this year was based off your report, and it made the competition a hundred times harder. After that, you prepare for nationals,” she said. “There’s 12 competitors, with the top three who usually get announced on stage, but this year it was over Zoom. Being able to interact and meet the judges is what I missed this year.”
Driven For a Bright Future
There were times while working on her report that she wanted to give up. Then she remembered the four words her dad taught her: “We do not quit.” Facing adversity through unfamiliar territory, Madison was able to come out with the first-place finish. Her work on AgSense and Valley Scheduling impressed judges, showing how much work she put into her project.
“This project has taught me so much. [Valley] has made an enormous impact on my life, and I’m now driven to pursue a degree in agricultural technology and systems management,” she said. “I’ve discovered my niche and learned to believe in myself and never stop.”
Congratulations to Madison McDonald (and her father), and best of luck on the pursuit of her degree and a promising future!
For more information on remote irrigation technology or any other smart irrigation solutions from Valley, contact your local Valley Dealer today!