Rubicon Water Newsletter – November 2022

In this issue:

  • Rubicon Production Facility Meets Growing USA Demand

  • Sustaining Profitable Alfalfa Production

  • It’s a Miracle – Water After Decades of Dry Canals in India

  • Introducing the lead of Rubicon Water’s US Production: Lisa Leyva

  • Latin American Delegation visits North America

  • Over $6million in grant funding applied for, on time!

  • Meet our new Rubicon Team Members

  • Did you know?

Rubicon Production Facility Meets Growing USA Demand

Rubicon’s commitment to its USA customers is its top priority. Serving customers with quality products and on time is essential for customer satisfaction and for Rubicon’s continued growth.

So it is no surprise that Rubicon has invested heavily in a production facility at its Modesto premises in California. The 30,000 square feet facility had been planned for some time to meet North America’s growing demand for Rubicon’s products and to counteract worldwide transportation logistical problems.

And it came just in time.

The cost of shipping containers from Rubicon’s manufacturing facility shockingly increased sixfold in the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic. So the timing was just right to bring onboard plans already developed for Modesto.

The savings in transportation overheads helped Rubicon to maintain steady pricing for its products and services. The USA investment has already been welcomed by many customers that, include irrigation districts and farmers facing water shortages, working towards water delivery automation for efficiency and water savings.

Interestingly, Rubicon’s transportation specialists also put into practice their knowledge of shipping containers. Components of gates can be packed more efficiently than fully assembled gates. And nifty solutions for component packing were soon put into practice, therefore enabling shipping costs to be kept within budget.

Sourcing components of Rubicon products locally in the USA is further helping to reduce transportation costs.

New facilities need the right people and experienced manufacturing professionals have been recruited at the facility to smooth operations and make the project a success. New faces such as Lisa Leyva, Assembly and Supply Manager, are among the recruited personnel. Lisa was one of many applicants chosen from a competitive pool who stood out for her many years of industrial production experience.

Read more about Lisa here.

Others recruited for the assembly facility include Adrien Guenebaut, Senior Process Manager who said “The facility enables Rubicon to be more responsive to the local market needs whilst at the same time boosting the local economy through procurement.”

Agricultural delegates from South America were among those who recently visited the Modesto Assembly facility. Sharing information throughout its global markets is a priority for Rubicon Water and the Modesto facility is similar to other Rubicon successful world models. For example, Rubicon gates are assembled  in India, with many components manufactured locally, for one of the world’s largest ever automation projects of agricultural water.

Read more about our project in India here.

Sustaining Profitable Alfalfa Production

Rubicon’s FarmConnect  Business Development Manager, Peter Moller, was ‘making hay’ at the recent 2022 World Alfalfa Congress in San Diego, CA, where he was invited to share his knowledge not once, but twice.

The conference pulls together scientists, farmers,  students and businesses from all over the world and is a  forum for scientific interaction and top-level knowledge sharing.

The theme of the Congress was that profitable alfalfa production sustains the environment. Peter’s presentations dealt with the benefits that can be achieved by better use of information and communication technology utilizing micro-climate weather stations, satellite imagery and remote-sensing information to develop quality irrigation benchmarking.

He presented during the  Congress’s main session on ‘Surface Irrigation Using Cloud-Based Automation, Sensors and Data Analytics’ and displayed a  Rubicon-designed poster further demonstrating Rubicon’s technology.  He also presented at an Irrigation and Water Management Workshop at the Congress under the title of ‘Automation of Surface Irrigation.’

In collaboration with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR), Rubicon has begun a number of alfalfa projects with the principle objective of demonstrating application efficiencies gained through optimally-managed, automated, high-flow bay irrigation using cloud-based computing.

It’s a Miracle – Water After Decades of Dry Canals

Thanks the power of modern technology, many farmers in northern Karnataka, India are receiving irrigation water for the first time in decades. Water hadn’t reached the tail end of canals located on the network due to an outdated delivery system, presenting significant serviceability and water equitability issues.

But Karnataka’s KBJNL water district had a much better vision for its water users.

Utilizing Rubicon Water’s automated gravity-fed irrigation technology, it is demonstrating how highly precious and limited water resources can not only be used more efficiently, but that greater crop productivity can also be achieved in one of the most water-stressed countries in the world.

India is considered the 13th most water-stressed country in the world according to the Water Resources Institute, and at the same time, agriculture is India’s largest consumer of water, accounting for 80% of all freshwater resources.

The water district in Karnataka went on a bold journey to address water shortage issues and modernize its system, which comprises of approximately 3,000kms of manually-operated and outdated irrigation system that spans 400,000 hectares of agricultural land. The massive undertaking includes the installation of more than 4,000 automated Rubicon gates with sophisticated software and communications infrastructure.

The project is already displaying early benefits, with many more positive outcomes anticipated to surface as the adoption of autonomous network capabilities continues. In recognition of these sustainability outcomes,  Rubicon  Water has won the ICID WatSave Award for Technology which was presented by Irrigation Australia at the recent ICID Congress in Adelaide, as well as the Governor of Victoria Export Award (GOVEA) 2022 for Sustainability.  The WatSave Award recognizes Rubicon’s innovative efforts to improve water management in Karnataka, while the GOVEA Sustainability Award recognizes Rubicon’s outstanding international success in deploying solutions to support environmental outcomes and the sustainability of agricultural water. Rubicon Water is also a finalist in the Australian Export Awards.

The project in Karnataka now has the capability to deliver reliable quantities of irrigation water to farmers and marks one of the largest irrigation modernisation projects of its type in the world.

The integrated irrigation management software has the capability to precisely manage the demand of water within the extensive system and coordinate the automated gates to adjust in real-time, to precisely deliver the desired flow and volume to farmers located throughout the network.  In practicality, this helps to bring an equitable supply of water to farmers enabling improved crop yields and lower water wastage. As the level of automation throughout the network continues, the yield improvements will continue to increase. The expected water savings upon completion will be a massive 1.35 million megaliters, and the project has also supported hundreds of jobs in India, with the majority of Rubicon gate components being made locally with materials sourced within the region, supporting the government’s Make in India initiative.

Rubicon Water nominees in the WatSave Award were India General Manager, Sumith Choy,  Program Delivery Manager, Varun Ravi and key representatives from joint venture partner, Medha Servo Drives.

“The Rubicon story is a fantastic display of a small-scale Australian technology business that’s grown to deliver some incredible sustainability results here in Australia and in some of the most diverse locations around the world. Our project in Karnataka is a significant milestone and the recent WatSave award provides recognition not only for the benefits of automation but for our entire team, KBJNL and the Ministry of Water Resources for their progressive vision in adopting technology,” said Sumith Choy, Rubicon’s General Manager of India.

The project will support farmers to venture into higher-value crops, which would have been a riskier shift with the previously unreliable water delivery. The project also has the potential to recover unserviced land and avoid over-watering of existing areas, with the goal of improving water use efficiency by 20%.

For farmers the benefits are many, and include bringing them better knowledge of when to irrigate and how much water to apply. This scheduling information will be derived from strategically located microclimate weather stations and soil moisture probes, with data delivered to the integrated water ordering software.

At the same time the KBJNL project operators can leverage the Irrigation Management Software, which feeds back vital information to them, to plan, manage and deliver water more efficiently, providing unprecedented standards to farmers.

The original project completion was set for 2021 but was delayed by COVID-19 complications and is now due for completion in the coming weeks.

The project in Karnataka is providing positive outcomes for all parties involved and is a wonderful example of how existing, often antiquated, surface irrigation systems can be updated with technology to provide invaluable benefits for the entire region. It is a win for India, for the State of Karnataka, for local businesses, for its farmers, and for Rubicon Water.

Lisa Leads Rubicon Water’s US Production

American women are making inroads into industries once almost exclusively male, such as manufacturing.

Rubicon Water’s recently recruited Assembly and Supply Manager is Lisa Leyva, mother of three, who says she “loves working in automation and manufacturing.” Rubicon Water joins a growing stream of manufacturing businesses that recognize the value of a skilled, diverse and inclusive workforce.

Only 1 in 4 manufacturing leaders in the USA are women according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, yet women have the same potential to contribute to manufacturing as men. Lisa is one of America’s women who are highly experienced and qualified and now being recruited because of that experience.

Rubicon’s General Manager, Darren McGregor said: “Lisa comes to with us with a deep resume in many facets of manufacturing, from procurement and inventory to manufacturing, planning, and forecasting.  She has in-depth experience with supply and manufacturing management systems that will help her spearhead our assembly line formation and operation in Modesto.  We’re excited to have her on staff as we build this part of our organization.”

Lisa demonstrated her considerable abilities over many years by delivering projects within time, resource and budget constraints in a variety of manufacturing settings

“I am very pleased with the new position” she said. “Manufacturing is now becoming as open to women as well as men and I hope that this encourages other women in the sector.

Manufacturing is a team operation with team goals and I am delighted with the team at Rubicon Water.”

Manufacturing is increasingly safe, clean and high-tech, yet American manufacturers are facing a shortage of workers by 2028. Encouraging talented women with wide-ranging manufacturing skills is a priority for many companies looking ahead.  The conscious inclusion of women will bring a much-needed infusion of new ideas and a multifaceted approach to problem-solving, production and leadership.

“Rubicon is very fortunate to have obtained such a high caliber Manager” Darren McGregor added.

Latin American Delegation visits North America

Senior Chilean Rubicon employees and a USA management team hosted a number of Latin American irrigation professionals this Summer.

The guests included irrigation managers and government officials, and a group of almost 20 spent several days on an informative tour. The trip was designed to demonstrate the various applications of Rubicon’s automation technology in the USA.

Rubicon Water is a growing company in Chile and other South American countries where the ultimate goal is the automation of agricultural water delivery. The Chilean Rubicon delegation was led by General Manager Alvaro Luna accompanied by staff members, with attendees from Chile, Peru and Argentina.

A tour of key California Rubicon installations was arranged with Oakdale Irrigation District, Solano Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District,  Imperial Irrigation District, UC Davis, Fresno State Center for Irrigation Technology and others.

Eric Rothberg USA National Sales Manager explained how valuable it was for the delegation members to be able to speak freely with Rubicon customers.  “Our special thanks to the USA Districts and organizations for hosting our visits and to the Chilean Rubicon team for making it possible.  Ideas were exchanged and the visit was of benefit to everyone.” said Eric.

The tour was not all work for the delegation members, who also enjoyed some fine American food and hospitality, a day visit to San Francisco and time for souvenirs and gift shopping.

Over $6 million in grant funding applied for, on time!

As the majority of the current grant application season draws to a close, Rubicon Grants and Marketing Coordinator, Melissa Lowry can breathe a temporary sigh of relief.

She has just completed a complex period of grant research and writing for over 30 USA grant applicants seeking more than $6 million in grant funding from USBR’s WaterSMART, State funding packages and more.

The applications on behalf of federal, state and farm entities ranged between $30,000-$3 million funding applications.  The applications were collaborative efforts between Melissa and the entity or handled on behalf of the entity by Melissa. In each case, the grant application was finally filed by the entity and not by Rubicon, with anticipated successful award funds going directly to the Rubicon customer for their own appropriation.

This FREE OF CHARGE service is provided by Rubicon Water as a service to its customers. There is no fee, nor is there a minimum project size. The autonomy of the applying entity is never compromised and there is no required commitment to purchase equipment or services from Rubicon.

Melissa joined Rubicon in 2021 after an already successful career in municipal grant writing. 

She points out that while the current season of open grants is almost at a close, now is the time to think about future options when new grant opportunities are announced in Spring 2023.

“There are many different grant sources at State, Federal and private levels” says Melissa.   “Matching projects with the most suitable grant opportunity leads to the best chance of success and now is the time to start planning for the next round of open funding opportunities.”

Rubicon offers free-of-charge Scoping Studies that look at the feasibility of irrigation canal modernization and automation projects. The Scoping Studies are also free of charge and without obligation and provide in-depth and valuable information to assist with grant applications.

There is nothing to lose and a lot to gain by discussing your irrigation district’s or farm’s opportunities, whatever the potential size, with Melissa.  Let her know you are interested, and she will be pleased to discuss with you.

Melissa was recently interviewed by the Irrigation Leader magazine, speaking about the grant services that Rubicon offers to irrigation districts and farmers.


Open Grant Opportunities

Closing December 9th, Idaho for aging water infrastructure projects that support irrigation water delivery. The $75,000,000 funding is appropriated to the Idaho Water Resources Board by the State.

A Warm Welcome to our New Rubicon Team Members

Ashley Griffin

Finance and Office Administrator in Fort Collins, CO Rubicon Head Office

John Lind

Account Manager for Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico

Steve Jones

One of new Field Technicians based in Modesto supporting California and other regions

John Orr

One of our new Field Technicians based in Modesto supporting California and other regions. Shown here with his 10-month-old girl, Chloe.

Chris Hicks

One of our new Field Technicians based in Arizona.

Did You Know?

The incorporation of Rubicon technology is not designed to cause districts to lay off ditch riders and other members of staff. The intention is to enable districts with limited budgets to divert employees to other, sometimes neglected,  tasks such as canal maintenance, to improve operational efficiency and water savings, and to improve the safety and quality of life of people working in the irrigation arena.