Robert Daugherty, the Nebraska pioneer of center pivot irrigation, died Wednesday after a short illness. He was 88.
After Daugherty's World War II service, he acquired half interest in a farm machine shop. Over the years, he helped build it into Valley Manufacturing. In 1967 it became Omaha-based Valmont Industries.
The company says that in 1953, Daugherty obtained a patent license to the center pivot irrigation system developed by Frank Zybach. The system proved a catalyst for the company's growth and made a worldwide mark in agriculture. Valmont also makes poles and towers for many uses.
Chairman and CEO Mogens Bay called Daugherty an "entrepreneur extraordinaire."
Firefighters were called to Valmont Industries at 228th and Ida just before 2:30 a.m. When they arrived there was already thick smoke and flames coming from the roof of a large building. It took crews a little under an hour to get the fire under control. It's still not clear what started the blaze.