In.no.va.tion: Something newly introduced; a new method, custom, device; a change in the way of doing things.
O.va.tion: To celebrate a triumph; an enthusiastic public welcome.
Webster's definitions for innovation and ovation perfectly describe our FinOvation awards: accolades we give to the companies whose products received an enthusiastic welcome from you, our readers.
We picked winners from our last 12 issues. Hundreds of you found these winning products so intriguing that you took the time to fill out a Return-A-Card and send it to us.
You asked for more information and here it is. Each product is described in the category it won, along with comments from fellow farmers who have purchased and used it. And just as these farmers attest, these innovations may change the way you farm.
machinery Tractors New Fendt owners Farley Cole of Gerard, IL, and Charly Webber of Chaska, MN, were beyond enthusiastic when we called to ask their opinions of the tractor. They described it like this: "I love it. I absolutely love it....It's unbelievable....This tractor is really streamlined!"
When Cole bought his Fendt 926, he was in need of a high-horsepower tractor that could pull a heavy Liebricht rotary ditcher (another award winner, at right) at a very slow speed. In addition to raising crops, cattle and hogs, Cole has started a custom ditching business. "We can get this tractor down to 60 ft./min.," Cole says. "This also is going to make matching ground speed with the combine a lot easier."
Kevin Bien, Fendt product manager for AGCO, cites the tractor's Vario CVT (continuous variable transmission) and its stepless variable drive as reasons for its ability to drive at such slow speeds and at infinite increments. "With a powershift transmission, you typically only have maybe eight different field working speeds," Bien says. "Maybe I can only go 6.4 or 5.4 mph with a powershift . With a Vario transmission, if I want to go 5.7 mph, I can. It's the transmission's infinite ability to find the efficiency that lies between powershift speeds that makes it unique."
You can either set a cruise control speed on the computer terminal - which, according to Cole and Webber, is fairly easy to get the hang of - or use the joystick to accelerate. The 700 and 900 series tractors accelerate infinitely from 0 to 31 mph and have PTO horsepower from 110 to 240. The 400 series tractors offer 72 to 95 PTO hp with infinite acceleration from 0 to 25 mph.
Webber had a different reason for buying his Fendt 716: He fell in love with it during an impromptu test drive. "I had just purchased a [competitor's tractor] and I went to the dealer and saw this Fendt out on the lot," he says. Webber says it sold itself. "I bought it right then and there.
"All you've got to do is get in there and work with it a little bit," he continues. "It might be a little more money, but if you look at what it has and what it can do, plus the service agreement, it's worth it." The three-year service warranty covers all oils, fluids and filters, which your dealer maintains.
Both farmers cite a few minor problems with the tractor. Cole thinks the parking brake could be repositioned. It's to the left of the seat and low, so it's hard to reach to engage it. Webber says that the mirrors are a little too thin and the side window levers could be better. "But I can live with that," he adds. Prices: $69,700 to $91,500 for 400 series; $93,900 to $128,000 for 700s; and $145,000 to $184,000 for 900s. Contact AGCO Corp., Dept. FIN, 4205 River Green Pkwy., Duluth, GA 30096, 770/813-6067.
machinery Field improvement If you spot a Liebricht rotary ditcher as you drive down the road, you won't be able to pass by without stopping to watch it in action and ask questions. And, according to inventor and builder Junior Liebricht, that is exactly how most farmers who bought the machine were introduced to it. The machine is an attention grabber because it throws a large arc of soil through the air as it cleans ditches or creates field drainage.
Curiosity might kill the cat but it also can make you some big bucks. With this machine and a little ambition, you can make up to $200 to $250/hr. as a custom ditcher.
That's what Jerrel Haugan of McLeod, ND, does. He bought a Liebricht when it was first introduced in 1996. He had one payment left on the $34,000 machine when he bought a second one last summer for his growing business.
Illinois farmer Farley Cole took delivery of his ditcher last June. "This ditcher discharges the soil out and away from a waterway and chews it up pretty good," Cole says. "We have some waterways that were made with bulldozers and had to disk them a couple times to get the sod processed down to something manageable. This ditcher does it all in one pass: It chews up the sod and spits it out."
It's not just for custom operators. In fact, Liebricht came up with the idea for the machine out of his own farm needs. He now manufactures about a dozen different types of earthmoving machines. Contact Liebricht Mfg., Dept. FIN, 17771 Rd. H-13, Continental, OH 45831, 419/596-3501.
machinery Tillage Bill Wilson and Douglas Bruce are buddies. They've known each other and shared ideas for many years. Through this friendship, they developed one of the most innovative and unusual tillage tools on the market.
Their Serriator digs up ground like a chisel or moldboard but "without the impact of a boat anchor," according to Bruce, the blade designer. He says this action is accomplished because the discs are square with rounded corners. "Doug thinks outside the box," says Wilson of Athens Plow. "Who would ever dream of a square disc blade?"
The blades are staggered 45 so they hit the ground at different times. (Bruce chose to introduce the blades on an Athens Plow, but they can be used on most any plow.) "The four points fracture the ground like a spade when it's twisted," Bruce says. "When the flat sides come down and hit residue, they smash stalks like a hammer, fraying the ends for moisture absorption." The discs work in wet or dry ground, and Bruce says they stay cleaner and don't have the suction effect in mud that a circular disc can have.
Serriator owner Ron Heck, Perry, IA, claims, "With one pass, I prepared my seedbed so it's now ready for spring planting. I find it does a much better job getting rid of compaction and gets better down pressure because of the disc shape. It's a great tool for mulch tillage."
"Instead of covering up residue, this process mixes it right in with the dirt, leaving carbon deterioration in the soil so it doesn't dissipate into the air," Bruce says. "Also, you can till faster, up to 13 1/2 mph." Price not available at press time. Contact Athens Plow Co., Dept. FIN, Box 609, Athens, TN 37371, 800/535-3852.
machinery Planters Bob Zarse of Reynolds, IN, knew exactly what he wanted in a planter. "I was looking for a drill with a bulk seed box that could plant 15-in. rows and beans per foot instead of a hit-and-miss unit that spits out seed whenever it decides to," he says.
He found just what he wanted in Deere's new Tru-Vee drill. The drill features MaxEmergePlus planter units beneath a 40- or 42-bu.-capacity central fill drill seedbox. You can plant 15- or 30-in. rows.
When we called Zarse, he was eagerly awaiting delivery of his new drill. Although the new drills are not available until this spring, he was one of a few customers who were able to order last year. "I really didn't have a complaint with my previous planter; I just wanted to go bulk," he explains. "When you fill the planter boxes, it seems you always get to the last box and there's no seed left in the bags so you have to go back and start bucking them out of the other boxes."
Zarse says a big plus with this machine is the rotary bean unit. "It doesn't matter if I put beans in that are 32,000 ppa or 22,000 ppa. If I want 4 1/2 beans/ft., I'm gonna get it. I'm not always guessing," he claims.
Zarse doesn't believe going bulk saves money; in fact, he'll argue that it doesn't. "I'm in the process of buying a bulk seed-handling unit for $3,200. Add to that a forklift of at least $3,500 for used," Zarse says. "But, what I will save is manpower. Even with 50-lb. bags, it might take a half hour just to fill drill boxes. They tell me that bulk beans only take seven minutes to fill." He figures he'll gain about 25 minutes every 40 acres.
"If this doesn't go over with Deere, it will surprise me," he adds. "It looks to me 15-in. rows are going to be the thing in my area and I know a lot of neighbors are going to be watching the drill in my field." Price not available at press time. Contact John Deere North American, Dept. FIN, 11145 Thompson Ave., Lenexa, KS 66219, 913/310-8100.
machinery Combines When we spotted the new Lexion 470 rotary combine, we figured the company had a winner. The small rotary from Caterpillar features the dual rotary harvesting separation system found on the big 480 and 485 Lexions, but it is priced and sized for farmers who don't need the larger machines. It runs off a 290-hp, turbocharged Cat engine and has a grain tank capacity of 280 bu. with an unloading rate of 2 1/2 bu./sec. It also offers the company's accelerated pre-separation (APS) system found on all its bigger combines. Price: $172,700. Contact Caterpillar Inc., Dept. FIN, 8951 S. 126th St., Omaha, NE 68138, 800/888-4228.
machinery Accessories We know what fixer-uppers you are, so when we came across the Fehr Cab Interiors kits to replace cab liners, we knew you'd like them. And, according to the company, our coverage was great for business. In fact, the kits received the most inquiries of any of the FinOvation winners.
The kits are available for most makes of tractor cabs and can now be custom made. They cost about one-half to two-thirds the price of OEM and are fairly easy to install. The company makes and sells more than 5,000 kits a year and has about 70 from which to choose. The company owners researched various materials and found the original acoustic vinyl that OEM manufacturers have used for years. The material was developed for space exploration and has holes to help absorb and deaden sound.
Jay Zimmerman who farms in South Haven, KS, installed a kit in his Deere 4430 and recently bought kits for two of his Case tractors. "The kit I installed in the Deere looks original," Zimmerman claims. "You do have to take time to clean out the old glue, but they send a really good adhesive that you spray on the ceiling and foam of the liner." You can use a putty knife to remove the old liner and clean off the glue. Price depends on kit model. Contact Fehr Cab Interiors, Dept. FIN, 10116 N. 1900 E. Rd., Fairbury, IL 61739, 815/692-3355.
chemicals Equipment It started with a computer model - an animated caterpillar chewing on a computer-generated leaf getting sprayed by graphical droplets of pesticide - and it ended up as a chemical application system that received more Return-A-Card requests than any other piece of equipment featured in FIN.
"In 1990 Andrew Chapplle - then a graduate student - came to me with a project to build a dose transfer system that would show what happens to pesticides when they leave the spray nozzle," explains Robin Taylor, research scientist at Ohio State University. "It took us a year and a half just to write the instructions and build the program. But in the end, it helped us to understand the need for a broad range of droplet sizes for optimum insect control."
The pair used the model to investigate what properties of the spray cloud would influence the pesticide's efficacy. It took them years to create and work with the simulator and less than a week to come up with the idea for the two-nozzle design, called the Spray Redux system.
"We found that if you put only water in the large droplet you could preserve the structure of the spray cloud. Then the small droplets would receive active ingredient and would land where needed," Taylor explains. He claims that chemical rates are reduced without a loss in efficacy.
Now heading up the company that is licensing the technology from Ohio State University, Taylor says he now has the optimum juxtaposition of the nozzle. Price: $85/nozzle. Contact Spray Redux LLC, Dept. FIN, 4600 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44403, 330/263-3961.
fertilizer Equipment Brothers Johnny and Jeff Schultz are not only partners in business, they are partners in design. A local farmer came to them with a request for a disc to place liquid fertilizer with a Case planter. He had already tried mounting other fertilizer injectors to the machine, but nothing would work.
The brothers put their heads together and came up with this new injector for Case planters. "This is the only liquid fertilizer injector that mounts like this," Johnny claims. One bolt connects the disc to the existing bracket on the planter.
Larry Timm, who farms in eastern Nebraska, bought and mounted the injectors to his planters in time for last year's spring planting. "I had been through a lot of starter knives and discs before I saw this," Timm says. "It does a better job of closing the seed trench and it doesn't place the fertilizer too deep, just 1 1/2 in. - right next to the seed."
The brothers' injector system replaces half of the factory closing system on Case planters, but according to Timm, it is simple to mount. Price: $35 to $40/kit. Contact J.S. Ag Innovations Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 125C, Ewing, MO 63440, 800/400-2610.
chemicals Crop protection We had a tie for first place in this category with Dow AgroSciences' Glyphomax and Glyphomax Plus and Gustafson's seed treatments Gaucho and Prescribe.
Glyphomax is straight glyphosate; Glyphomax Plus includes surfactants. The company claims the new products offer the efficacy of Roundup or Roundup Ultra but at a slightly lower price. Contact Dow AgroSciences, Dept. FIN, 9330 Zionsville Rd. #308, Indianapolis, IN 46268, 800/208-4094.
So far, Gustafson's plot tests have shown about a 3.74-bu. gain in yield with seed treated with Prescribe and about a 7.74-bu. gain in seed treated with Gaucho, according to Ray Knake, Gustafson's northern product development manager. The company claims the systemic can be used in any geographical area. Prescribe contains a higher rate than Gaucho of the active ingredient, Imidacloprid. It guards against early season cutworm, corn rootworms and wireworm and remains active throughout rootworm attack. Last year Gaucho was approved for use in corn to guard against secondary pests.
Tim Maloney, who farms in southeastern Wisconsin and owns AgriTech Consulting, plot-tested treated seeds for the company. He says Gaucho increased population between 5 and 9%. "I'm intrigued," Maloney says. "The plants in those plots were always greener and taller." Maloney says plots planted with a non-Bt seed yielded 173.9 bu. without Gaucho and 186.3 bu. with Gaucho. Plots planted with Bt seeds yielded 174.2 bu. without the treatment and 185.4 bu. with the treatment.
Although he didn't do extensive testing with Prescribe, Maloney says he wouldn't use it on ground that's been corn on corn for the last 20 years but would use it on ground that has a low-to-moderate level of corn rootworm. Conversely, he thinks all corn should be treated with Gaucho. Price depends on seed purchased. Contact Gustafson Inc., Dept. FIN, 1400 Preston Rd., Suite 400, Plano, TX 75093, 800/248-6907.
seed Hybrids or varieties In eight years, four Purdue University researchers did what no major seed company could do: breed a high-yielding soybean variety that carries complete resistance to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and can be crossed with any other seed variety.
But don't think the research was easy. The scientists first had to breed the microscopic pests until they got a homogeneous inbred nematode line.
The life cycle of a soybean cyst nematode is only one month and it's a shot in the dark whether you're breeding the right sexes. "We put two nematodes together when they are juvenile," says Virginia Ferris, Ph.D., professor of nematology with Purdue. "These then produce offspring and from those offspring you take another pair and do it all over again and again. The success rate is very low."
The researchers were Ferris, her late husband John, Research and Extension Nematologist Jamal Faghihi, Ph.D., and Indiana Crop Improvement Association Genetics Program Director Rick Vierling.
During the lengthy research, the Purdue team screened 7,000 individual plants, seeking the genetic event that combined high yield and complete resistance. The single event discovered has become CystX.
The technology is now licensed through Access Plant Technology, which makes it available to seed companies. Nematode-infested fields planted with bean seeds that have the CystX resistance have shown yields of 60 bu./acre, according to Faghihi. "This is a not a genetically modified organism," he says. "We created this by classic genetic methods; there was no laboratory genetic transformation that would make it a GMO." Contact Access Plant Technology Inc., Dept. FIN, 301B Airport Rd., Plymouth, IN 46563, 219/936-3820.
seed Grain handling A couple of our Team FIN farmers spotted the Bin Buster at last year's National Farm Machinery Show. The simple tool mounts to a grain bin well pipe to make opening the well a lot easier.
"The well pipe is just bent to form an L, and after years of wear and tear, it doesn't pull straight. It gets harder and harder to open the bin well," says Randy Duden with The Spreader company.
Duden ran into this problem with his own grain bins and came up with the design himself. Spreader introduced it at last year's show. The bracket has been updated since; now it has slots to move from one position to the next. This helps give you the leverage you need, yet keeps the well pipe straight.
Bin mounting is simple with a few bolts. Price: $60. Contact The Spreader Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 189, Gifford, IL 61847, 800/428-9046.
farm and office Communications We know how much you guys like to hear about the weather and how important on-farm communication is to you. So when we came across the Cobra Micro Talk two-way, we knew you would appreciate all the alarms and weather channels it features.
The Micro Talk offers 15 channels and 38 sub-channels (about 530 channels more than a typical two-way), including 10 weather channels that broadcast 24 hrs./day. Probably the coolest thing about this radio is the WX Weather Alert: The radio will alert you to weather emergencies in your area and broadcast a special report. It also has two ways to get the attention of another user: VibrAlert sends a vibration to the other radio; CallAlert rings the other radio. It has an outdoor range of up to 2 miles and about 1 1/2 miles if the signal has to penetrate glass or metal.
Roger Beep is a talk confirmation signal to let listeners know when you're finished talking. For a private conversation you can scramble your message so unwanted listeners can't eavesdrop. Because it uses the Family Radio Service, there are no service fees.
Our tester, Scott McPheeters of Gothenburg, NE, notes that these radios offer a range that is as good as that from his high-end two-ways that he uses on his farm. He says that the CallAlert and function lock are good features to have and that voice quality is acceptable.
Suggested retail prices: $160 (it has been on sale for $100); rechargeable battery pack: $25; battery charger: $30. Contact Cobra Electronics Corp., Dept. FIN, 6500 W. Cortland St., Chicago, IL 60707, 773/889-8870.
farm and office Equipment The ability to view satellite images of your farm grabbed your attention in a big way. EarthScan's Web site offers you a chance to view and even download images that have resolutions as high as 5, 2 and 1 sq. m. "At the highest resolution, you can pick out trees and buildings," claims Ruth Cattlett with EarthScan.
But it's the colors of the maps that farmers are interested in. You can check moisture, nutrient placement and many other aspects of your soil.
"On January 17, we are debuting our upgraded Web site, which will offer software demos for farmers," Cattlett says. Contact EarthScan, Dept. FIN, 9110 W. Dodge Rd., Suite 200, Omaha, NE 68114, 800/850-5387, www.earthscannetwork.com.
farm and office Protective gear Stay safe while welding with the new 3N1 EQC auto-darkening filter lens from Jackson Products. The new filter lens can be used with most welding hoods and for any welding process, according to the company. The lens protects to Shade 3 for grinding, Shades 9 to 12 for welding. It runs off two AAA batteries; if the batteries go dead without your knowledge, the filter still protects to a Shade 14. Price: $303 for filter lens cartridge; $326 for cartridge and helmet. Contact Jackson Products, Dept. FIN, 5801 Safety Dr. N.E., Belmont, MI 49306, 800/253-7281.
livestock Equipment Orion spokesperson Neal Verfuerth claims that by placing the company's Long-Day Lighting - which he says is the closest thing to daylight - in your dairy buildings, you can increase milk production from 5 to 16% and improve heifer growth.
Verfuerth says cows are stimulated to produce more milk when they register longer days through their eyes and brains. Actual sunlight is rated at 5,500 K temperature; Long-Day's are rated at 5,000 K. Lights put out 200W of light but only use 36W of energy, according to the company. Suggested list price: $60 to $67. Contact Orion Lighting & Energy Services, Dept. FIN, 1204 Pilgrim Rd., Plymouth, WI 53073, 920/892-9340.
shop Lubricants and fuel It might have a silly name - Mr. Funnel - but the idea of keeping water, dirt and other debris out of your equipment and vehicles' fuel lines is a serious matter. And the developer of the new screened filter funnel, Roger Patch, knows the importance of pure fuel: He is a pilot in Alaska.
Patch says the fuel-filter funnel is coated with Teflon and can be used with any grade of fuel in any machine or vehicle. It also works great as a diagnostic tool if problems arise because you can drain a little fuel and check for water in the line. The funnels come in three sizes; the largest is for use on tractors and combines. Price: $30. Contact Smart Tech LLC, Dept. FIN, 23745 Immelman Circle, Chugiak, AK 99567, 800/972-1550.
shop Tools Designed in Czechoslovakia, the Metrinch that we found at the National Hardware Show is touted as a "one size fits all" wrench. It can hold or remove metric or standard ratchet, open- and box-end sockets.
The company is working on designing a kit with various sized wrenches for tractor or combine engine maintenance. Price not available at press time. Contact N&P Marketing, Dept. FIN, 69-730 Hwy. 3, Suite 207B, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270, 760/202-0200.
shop Supplies When Andrew Ungerleider created his first Fi-Bar granola bar in the 1960s, he didn't realize that years later he would be using that same manufacturing process to create an easy way to sand away rust, paint, dirt and grime.
Ungerleider's Quik Sand abrasive blocks replace sandpaper and heavy-duty cleaning products and can be used on most metals, wood, ceramic and porcelain. They are made from recycled materials, mostly glass, and are nontoxic. We tested them and found they didn't leave any more dust than sandpaper, but lasted longer. The best part is that the bar contours to the surface you're working on. For instance, when sanding a curved piece of rusted metal, the block wore down to hug the curve. Contact Earthstone International Ltd., Dept. FIN, 6528 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier, CA 90601, 562/593-0695.
transportation ATVs Paul Slavik, spokesperson for Honda, says the company is selling its Fourtrax Rubicon as fast as it can make them.
There's good reason too: The new Rubicon is the company's most powerful, multipurpose ATV, boasting a 499-cc, liquid-cooled, overhead-valve, four-stroke single-cylinder engine.
Slavik claims virtually every other automatic ATV on the market is belt driven; the Rubicon has a sophisticated automatic transmission using principles of hydrostatic drive, mechanical power transfer and modern electronic controls to create a unique hydromechanical drive. Users can select automatic or manual modes. A unique torque-sensing, limited slip front differential reduces steering effort while providing the traction of a 4-wd. Suggested retail price: $6,991. Contact American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Motorcycle Cust. Service, Dept. FIN, 1919 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90501, 310/532-9811.
transportation Tires Firestone's first line of ATV tires, the Dirt Hook and the Mud Hook, are designed to keep you moving in and out of fields in rough terrain and even muddy conditions.
The tires' open tread patterns allow dirt and mud to slough right off. Dirt Hooks feature a lug design for dry conditions. Mud Hooks feature a design for wet conditions. There are 18 ATV tire sizes in production; four are Honda OEMs.
The company plans to introduce tires with higher tractive lugs designed specifically for fieldwork. The new tires will be in large 11- to 12-in. sizes to fit heavier, high-powered utility vehicles. Price not available at press time. Contact Firestone Agricultural Tire Co., Dept. FIN, 730 E. 2nd St., Des Moines, IA 50309, 800/350-3276.
transportation Accessories Here's a simple tool for an age-old problem - covering up the gap between the tailgate and bed on your pickup to keep rocks, water and debris out of it. It even has a simple, easy-to-remember name: Tailgate Gap Cover.
The product's designer, Buz McKinley, says he's expanded the original, bolt-down cover since our original article. The ex-Boeing engineer now has an adhesive version. The covers are available for specific truck models, cut to fit. Now McKinley plans on manufacturing a Universal kit that will come in 6-ft. lengths to fit more than just pickups. For instance, you could adhere them to grain bins, combine extension bins and machinery, livestock and ATV trailers. McKinley says they will work with virtually anything with a fold-down gate that has a gap. Prices: $40 to $44 for strapped covers; $30 to $34 for adhesive covers; and $20 to $24 for Universal covers. Contact Time Savers, Dept. FIN, Box 1269, Duvall, WA 98019, 877/844-9069.
transportation Trucks It hardly ever fails. When we tell you about the new trucks coming to market, one of them always wins a FinOvation. In this case, it's a tie between the Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra new heavy-duty (HD) trucks from General Motors.
Our source at Chevy says that three main features of the Silverados are catching the eye of buyers: the power to the engine (the Vortec 6,000 V8 is rated at 300 hp at 4,400 rpm and 360 lb. ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm), payload (2500 HD half-tons have 3,964 lbs., 3500 HD one-tons have 5,753 lbs.) and towing capabilities (half-tons have 9,200-lb. GVWR, one-tons have 11,400-lb. GVWR). Since the story ran in our Mid-February issue last year, Chevy updated the Crew Cab LT models; electronic climate controls are now an option. GMC's Rick Asher says the Sierra HD just started production late last fall. See your GMC or Chevy dealer.