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DAA: Barton R. Nelson

Barton R. Nelson

Walla Walla, WA | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 1995

Mr. Nelson is President of Nelson Irrigation Corporation, a manufacturer of agricultural irrigation equipment that employees 150 people. Nelson Irrigation Corporation has, from its inception, been dedicated to planning, designing, developing, manufacturing, and selling proprietary products for the agricultural irrigation equipment market. Today they manufacture the Big Gun® line of sprinklers, impact sprinklers, flow controls, pressure regulators, control valves, spinners, sprays, and the Rotator™ line. They strive to develop products that conserve water and energy. Upon graduation from Purdue University, Mr. Nelson began working for LR. Nelson Manufacturing Company, a family business started in 1911 by his grandfather. Today that company is known as LR. Nelson Corporation and produces lawn and garden sprinkling equipment. He initially worked as plant manager, then vice president, at the Peoria plant. In 1968, he moved to Portland, Oregon to start a division of the company to serve the irrigation needs of agriculture. Because of the company’s tremendous success in this market, the family sold the LR. Nelson Manufacturing Company in 1972 and simultaneously formed Nelson Irrigation Corporation. Mr. Nelson has been an innovator in irrigation research and agricultural water delivery systems. He and his staff hold several patents. He was awarded the 1988 Industry Achievement Award by the Irrigation Association. In 1992, he was named to the Leadership Group of the Irrigation Industry, a collaborative effort with the United States Agricultural Research Service. Mr. Nelson served with the Illinois Air National Guard during the Berlin Crisis in 1961 and was named the Outstanding Non Commissioned Officer by the 182nd Tactical Fighter Group. He currently serves on his local Community Corrections Board, which helps youth at risk and their families.