Copper Theft

Protecting producers from copper wire theft on pivots

New device alerts producers even when power off
2014-07-22T08:00:00Z Protecting producers from copper wire theft on pivotsBy SUE ROESLER, Minnesota Farm Guide Minnesota Farm Guide

Copper theft is on the rise, especially on irrigation systems on isolated rural farms.

“We heard from irrigated producers that copper wiring, that was used in connecting devices to their pivots, was being stolen,” said Steve Sveum, vice president of sales and marketing at Ag Sense. “It was happening all too frequently.”

So AgSense included theft-monitoring capabilities on their Field Commander device as long as the pivot was powered.

But now, the new 2014 models provide theft protection whether the unit is on or off, he said. Even in the fall and winter or during power outages, the theft protection will still engage.

According to Sveum, the Field Commander is the next generation in Remote Field Management (RFM) from AgSense. Field Commander works with any brand of pivot and comes with numerous digital control features, allowing producers to upgrade a pivot without replacing their existing control panel, he added.

The Field Commander is an advanced GPS-driven pivot monitor/control system that communicates via the digital cell network to provide near real-time information and up to the minute alarms to a producer’s cellphone, smartphone or computer, Sveum said.

Copper is used in the wiring that operates the pivot panel all the way through to where the Field Commander box is located on the pivot, he said.

In recent years, AgSense officials became aware that when there were power outages in the off-season, more copper wiring thefts occurred. And, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, there has been a recent rise in copper theft, costing victims more than $1 billion in 2013.

“Because pivots are typically in remote locations, they have become a big target for these copper thieves,” Sveum said. “It can take thieves less than 20 minutes to gather thousands of feet of copper wire, which can cost the producer more than $10,000.”

Because producers “work hard for their money,” Sveum said AgSense was committed to helping them protect their investment.

Outside of the direct replacement costs, copper theft, which causes a downed pivot, can lead to yield loss, especially in low rainfall conditions, Sveum explained.

But producers who purchase the 2014 Field Commander to monitor and control pivot systems will now also have theft protection – all from one device.

“We are excited about being able to offer this protection for the producer,” Sveum said, adding the 2014 AgSense Field Commander will send a pulse several times each minute when there is no power to the box.

If the pulse does not complete the loop and return to the Field Commander, a text message will immediately go out to up to 10 individual cellphones and/or emails, notifying that power has been interrupted, which could be due to theft, according to Sveum.

The Field Commander works anywhere there is cellphone coverage.

“The sheriff is notified and the theft is stopped,” he said, adding that “thieves have been caught with this theft protection technology.”

If producers currently have a Field Commander, AgSense has a cost-effective trade-in program to obtain a new 2014 model with the theft-protection available both when the pivot is on or off. The protection is available with any subscription level, Sveum added.

Other main ag technologies that AgSense offers with the Field Commander unit include the AgSense AquaTrac device and AgSense Crop Link.

The AgSense AquaTrac device is designed to read several brands of major soil moisture probes to help the producer make irrigation decisions, Sveum said.

The AgSense CropLink is a multi-function device that can be connected to various tools in and around the irrigated field to monitor and control them. Devices such as pumps, wells, flow meters, and soil moisture probes can all be monitored and/or controlled through CropLink.

“All our technology is geared toward providing the latest ag technologies for irrigating crops,” Sveum said.

For more information on the 2014 Field Commander or other AgSense technologies, producers can log on to http://www.AgSense.net.

Copyright 2015 Minnesota Farm Guide. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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