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Articles from 1998 In July

Corn+Soybean Digest

August 1, 1998

The haste of waste

If manure application is a bottleneck, here are tips to help keep it flowing.

Inside Hydro Engineering, the voice of company president Thomas Huffman is heard from the lobby.

"You're having labor problems? How many gallons of manure are you dealing with? How fast do you need it applied?"

It's 1:30 and he hasn't eaten lunch. He's been on the phone all morning with farmers, answering the question he's been getting a lot lately: Should I hire a custom manure applicator or buy my own equipment and apply the manure myself? Huffman offers both options. His Minnesota-based company makes a complete line of hose-drag manure injection equipment.

Hydro Engineering's patent-pending 3-pt. hitch manifold system released late last year hooks up to any 3-pt. tillage tool to save farmers more than 50% over the cost of a fully equipped, ready-made manifold and tillage tool made specifically for manure.

It also offers a crew of 23 custom applicators who will do the job for you. Which option you choose comes down to a few basic factors Huffman will walk you through.

Benefits of owning. Huffman deals only with the hose-drag system. Manure is transferred from storage to fields up to a mile or two away through a supply line. The supply line feeds into a flexible hose that is attached to a tractor and tillage tool that opens the soil and incorporates the manure. You can apply manure on 40 acres before you have to stop and move the hoses.

Huffman says timing will be the biggest driver as to whether you will buy your own hose-drag equipment. The available window of application is narrow each spring and fall. Most custom applicators run a tight schedule and may not be available on the day you need them.

The second biggest factor is cost. A fully equipped, ready-made manure hose-drag system costs, on average, from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the specific application requirements in your area. That's based on a transport distance of 1 mile from field to storage and doesn't include the 150- to 200-hp tractor you'll need to pull everything.

What it does include is a pit agitator to keep nutrients blended in storage; a centrifugal pump to get manure out of storage; a chopper, installed on the inlet side of the pump, to chop solids and eliminate plugging prior to pumping, supply-line and reels; a dragline hose; tillage equipment; a manifold to connect the hoses and attach them to the tillage equipment, and a flow meter in the tractor to monitor flow rates and measure how many gallons per acre are being applied. It will handle up to 15 shanks with options of a shutoff valve, manifold agitator and flow meter.

To determine whether you can afford your own equipment, Huffman says to look at how much manure is produced on your farm. The typical break-even point of where it makes sense to own is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million gal./year.

To estimate the number of gallons you have, count the number of animals on your farm. A count of 250 dairy cows or 13,000 to 14,000 finished pigs/year roughly equates to that break-even amount.

Going custom. The alternative is to hire out. Custom applicators charge on average .006 to .0117 cents to pump manure up to a mile. That's based on what Huffman's crew made pumping 800 million gal. of manure last year on some 80,000 acres in Minnesota.

According to Huffman, these are the services you can expect from them:

*On-site testing of manure for nutrient values, taken at three points during pumping, *Follow-up testing in a lab to verify accuracy of on-site tests, *Latest equipment, including a flow meter and wide range of tillage tools to control the rate per acre, *Emergency manure spill plan, *Report of how much manure was applied where and its nutrient value.

Most custom application equipment has expensive flow meters and a wide range of tillage tools to control rates. The wider the implement, the lower the rate of application, Huffman says. "With the variety of tillage tools being adapted in the past 5 to 10 years, we have the ability to get down to 2,000 to 3,000 gal./acre of application."

The equipment available to custom applicators is reason enough for some farmers to hire out, especially with the public's increased awareness of the environment. "Our business is flourishing because of the pressures being put on growers to handle the manure in an environmentally safe manner," Huffman explains.

To make sure you get a reputable applicator, ask the service provider for references or get recommendations from farmers who have hired them.

Apply by the rules. Any manure application must be based on a manure management plan provided by you, the producer, and written by someone versed in feedlot regulations and agronomy, such as your local extension educator.

Jeffrey Lopez, manure resource project coordinator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, says the plan should outline the number of gallons or tons that need to be applied to meet the agronomic requirements of each field based on soil test results. It should also indicate on an aerial map the locations of environmentally sensitive areas such as river setbacks, abandoned wells, wetlands and tile intakes.

"I recommend running the manure management plan by your county feedlot officer to make sure it complies with state and county regulations," Lopez says.

For more information, contact your local extension agent or Hydro Engineering Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 98, Young America, MN 55397, 612/467-3100.


Several manufacturers are watching this innovative "see weed, spray weed" technology closely, preparing to bid for the rights to this smart sprayer that could redefine proper chemical application and save big bucks for farmers.

The double-decker booms reaching out one side of a self-propelled sprayer draw odd looks from farmers, especially if the onlookers get close enough to see video cameras shooting the ground from an 11-ft.- high boom.

Surely this isn't a lawyer's warped advice to custom applicators to negate claims that they haven't been adequately covering fields. No, actually it's the latest prototype of the University of Illinois' smart sprayer. And it's bringing closer to reality the ability to accurately spray only the weeds that are present.

Eliminate broadcast. You know your fields and how erratic weed distribution is over a whole field. Common sense says that broadcasting a contact herbicide would be efficient only if you were able to treat single weeds and patches.

According to Dr. Lei Tian, ag engineer and developer of this machine-vision smart sprayer, only 20 to 30% of a normally applied post-contact herbicide actually kills weeds. "We've designed the smart sprayer to increase this efficiency as close to 100% as possible, with the goal that it will save farmers thousands of input dollars while reducing environmental and crop stress load.

"In fact," Tian says, "a 50 percent savings should be easy to get since, conservatively, only 50 percent of a field has weeds."

After testing their first sprayer and computer software system in 1997, the engineers proved that the concept worked. The "real-time" system sensed weeds, then triggered individual nozzles to spray these weeds with a water and dye mix, with 83% accuracy.

How it works. This complex system begins with live video footage to identify weeds. Currently, one camera watches a 12-ft.-wide area and controls six nozzles (20-in. spacing). The camera feeds images to the computer, which distinguishes weeds from crop, residue and bare soil. It can recognize weeds compared with crop plants by analyzing leaf shape, size and texture.

Upon receipt of the images, the software signals the appropriate nozzle(s) to spray exactly when the weeds pass under the spray boom. The current prototype also can vary the chemical rate being applied determined by weed size and density all while maintaining a constant boom pressure and traveling 6 to 7 mph. Tian says that the technology is probably capable of handling speeds up to 10 mph.

Ag engineers Tian, John Reed and Brian Steward, have vastly improved the 1998 prototype, added to a Tyler Patriot XL sprayer, by using the latest video camera, sensor, nozzle and computer/software technology.

Their goal is to increase accuracy and bring the design closer to production standards so it can be mass produced at a reasonable price.

"We've made many improvements to increase performance," Tian says. "Our computer and software designs are now Windows-based to give immediate visual results. Older near-infrared cameras have been replaced with color, multispectral, high-resolution cameras (placed higher off the ground) to detect weed size and density. We've tied our software and the sprayer controller that we designed into a GPS/GIS system to generate weed maps for future use. We're working on adapting the software to environmental conditions, such as clouds and lighting conditions, which can affect weed identification."

Obviously, the crop canopy cannot get too large or this system won't see enough ground. "But the crop is normally smaller during the proper application window for post control of weeds," Tian says.

Although this rig has yet to apply a herbicide, all tests have been validated using a special dye in water to determine spray coverage on weeds.

Ready for market? Typical of most researchers, Tian says he'd like a few more years to refine the system. But with several manufacturers seriously looking at this technology, Tian hinted that a version of this smart sprayer could arrive in fields sooner than that.

But what about cost? Tian expects that, when mass produced, the machine can be reasonably priced. Because the nozzles are designed to be attached to any sprayer, the main expense will be the cameras and computer.

For more information, contact Dr. Lei Tian, Dept. of Ag Engineering, University of Illinois, 360-L Ag Engineering Sciences Bldg., 1304 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, 217/333-7534.

Prairie unleashed

Whether at work or play, Kawasaki's new Prairie 300 and revamped 400 four-wheelers take shiftless effort to a new level.

Just two years ago, Kawasaki launched its first fully-automatic ATV, the Prairie 400 4x4, which received critical acclaim from the media and buyers. In fact, it became one of the top 10 best-selling models in the industry one year later.

For 1999, the company, fresh off a reorganization to put more focus on its ATV line, set out to improve a good thing. The company claims its newly revamped Prairie 400 and totally new Prairie 300 four-wheelers take its shiftless transmission and suspension technology to the next level.

To judge for ourselves, we put these machines, both 2-wd and 4-wd, to the test for two days on 13 miles of trail in the steep and creek-laden hills of Missouri's heavily forested Ozark country, just a stone's throw from Branson.

Not only was the terrain a tough test on the machines, the riders also were tested with 95 to 100 heat and high humidity both days. However, the riding scenery was spectacular, set in the 10,000-acre private wilderness refuge of Dogwood Canyon. The area is home to rocky cliffs, small caves, a bison herd, old Indian burial sites and a trout stream where bigger-than-your-net rainbows toy with flies.

Prairie impressions. Over the course of two days, we were able to ride all four new machines and compare them to last year's models. By riding the '98 and '99 versions of the 400 4x4 back-to-back, I immediately sensed the new model's higher horsepower (claimed 12% more) and more responsive transmission due to a smaller, lighter continuously variable transmission (CVT). It accelerated up steep inclines instead of leveling out, and the front suspension that now features stiffer springs to handle the added power provided a more comfortable ride, even compared to the good suspension on the original 400.

The 2x4 model, in my opinion, was the most fun to drive, especially in and out of the corners. Perhaps it was the sliding rear end that provided more of a challenge for this 40-year-old thrill seeker. (Does the water-crossing photo give this passion of mine away?)

The other most noticeable improvement was the shifting mechanism. Gone is the H pattern of shifting into high and low range, reverse or neutral; it has been replaced with a straight-line, automotive-style pattern for quick and easy shifting.

Underneath the shift lever is the revamped Kawasaki Automatic Power-Drive System (KAPS), designed for better power transfer down the shaft to the rear wheels. Wider transmission ratios are incorporated for higher top speed and improved hill climbing and towing ability. And transmission settings also are revised to ensure smooth power delivery and maximum acceleration.

Both 400 models use an identical engine (391-cc 4-stroke SOHC), transmission, chassis and suspension components. The 4x4 ($6,099) has composite cargo racks, a multifunction digital display panel, aluminum wheels, new headlamp shape and full-time 4-wd with an easy-steering, limited slip front-differential. The 2x4 ($5,199) has steel racks and an analog speedometer/odometer. Both ATVs can haul up to 242 lbs. total on front and rear racks and can tow up to 1,100 lbs.

Birth of a sibling. To build on the success of the 400, Kawasaki decided to crank up its Lincoln, NE, factory to add a new smaller Prairie, the 300 2x4 and 4x4.

"Our goal with the 300 is to create the best performing, best handling, most comfortable and highest value ATV aimed at this largest sales segment," says Jim Williams, ATV product manager.

The company says these automatic 300 models will not replace its gear-driven Bayou 300 series, but will complement it for riders seeking a no-shift machine.

Both 300 models use an identical engine (290-cc air-cooled 4-stroke SOHC, based on the Bayou), transmission, chassis, wheels, tires and suspension components. And both use the same CVT as the 400, but tuned differently to match the 300's power output. The 4x4 features new composite cargo racks, a standard speedometer/odometer and full-time 4-wd with a limited-slip front differential.

Shifting is the same as with the new 400 automotive-style mechanism. Once underway, no shifting is necessary with KAPS, which keeps the engine operating at peak performance.

The front and rear racks of the 300 are ready to haul up to 242 lbs. And it can tow up to 1,100 lbs., claimed to be the highest in its class (and the same as the 400 model). Price: $5,299 for the 300 4x4, $4,399 for the 300 2x4 ATV.

All four 1999 models are currently being shipped to dealers, available in either firecracker red or hunter green colors. For more information, see your local dealer or contact Kawasaki Motors Corp., Dept. FIN, 9950 Jeronimo Rd., Irvine, CA 92618-2084, 949/770-0400.

Is your machine being serviced right? Combine checkups

An annual combine inspection can cut downtime and repair costs. But be advised: All are not the same. Price may be your best indicator.

What started out as a way to keep service technicians busy and parts sales up in the winter months has become a vital tool for farmers to cut machinery repair costs and prevent downtime at harvest.

Combine inspections have been around since the early 1980s. But until recently most farmers didn't see the need to have their combines inspected. They'd simply fix problems as they occurred. That's changing.

As farms get bigger and combines more complex, farmers are finding they no longer have the time or tools to service their combines. As a result, implement dealers are seeing a flood of requests for routine combine checkups that can catch problems before farmers hit the field.

"When we first started inspections, customers thought they were spending quite a bit on the combine before they went into the field," says David Goebel, service manager at Kibble Equipment in Montevideo, MN. "But those who spent the most were first to sign up the following year."

Jim Haar, owner of Fred Haar Implement in Freeman, SD, agrees: "I think we're pushing preventive maintenance more. Farmers have found it's very costly to be down for a couple of days during harvesttime."

But as a buyer, there's one critical question you need to ask: Do all dealers provide comparable inspections?

Quality at a price. "Emphatically, absolutely not," answers Jim Beal, co-owner of Taking Care of Business, a dealer consulting firm. For the past 16 years he has trained dealers nationwide on how to give a quality inspection and still make money doing it. During that time he has analyzed some 15,000 inspection experiences. He's found that quality varies dramatically because of in-line competition, which has caused dealers to price inspections lower and lower at the sacrifice of value. "They forget their customers are paying $150,000 for a combine and don't think they would spend more than $99 to do a thorough inspection." Hard costs alone for a detailed inspection before repairs average $340 for tractors and $460 for combines. (See table.) That's based on a $40/hr. labor rate and covers hauling costs, a complete cab and glass cleanup and inspection time. At those prices even the best dealers will not recover two-thirds of their hard costs in the inspection process, he says. Because of the narrow margin, you are better off purchasing a higher-priced inspection because it will be more in line with what the dealer invests in time. Tips for buying right. Beal estimates that only 30% of dealers offer a detailed, quality inspection that is priced appropriately. "Deere and Case generally lead the pack."

How do you know if your dealer is one of them? Beal says to look for these indicators:

Price. Make a buy decision based on price. Be wary of anything priced under $200 for tractors and under $250 for combines.

Points of inspection. Ask to see the checklist. It should cover at least 100 points.

Time. The inspection should take no fewer than 2 1/2 to 4 hours for tractors and 3 1/2 to 5 hours for combines.

Place. The best value inspections are conducted in the shop, not on the farm, Beal says. Otherwise you pay too much for road time.

Perks. Look for added values that may be packaged in the inspection cost. Storing could be one. Jump on parts discounts. Customer approval. Insist on approving every line-item repair on the inspection checklist. "If it is not part of the approach, then some dealers violate trust and have horrendous tickets that the farmer doesn't feel are justified," Beal says.

Size of repair bill. Expect to pay an average of $2,000 on tractors and $3, 000 on combines for follow-up parts and labor. Combine numbers are based on out-of-warranty units with 600 to 1,000 hrs. of use.

A packaged deal. Beal has taken these indicators and put together quality-driven inspection checklists for every make and model of combine that any dealer can purchase off the shelf. He has developed these checklists for combines, tractors, corn heads, flex heads, planters and hay tools. They are designed with the help of technicians and revised annually. What sets them apart? "Ours are more detailed, quality-driven and disciplined than anything we've seen. These are not $99 quickie lube approaches."

The checklist for combines is five pages and covers more than 100 points that technicians check. "I tell dealers to start at the right-hand side, then go to the left-hand, move up to the operator station and end with the engine."

It broadly covers the feeder house, rotor cylinder, cage and grates, shoe, drive train, cab and electrical, engine, grain handling system including sieve and chaffer, straw walkers (where appropriate) and unloading system.

A key feature is a three-step sign-off process to ensure all repairs are warranted. First, the technician identifies whether each item is okay. Second, the customer approves each suggested line-item repair. Third, the technician marks when each repair is completed.

Consolidated Ag Service (CAS), a multi-store organization in central and southwestern Minnesota, uses Beal's checklist and subscribes to his approach. It charges $175 for the inspection plus hauling charges. All inspections are done in the shop. They cover more than 150 points and take about a day. The technicians prepare a list of recommended repairs and present it to the customer for approval. The customer pays for all parts and labor, and there are no parts discounts.

CAS goes one step further. If the customer agrees to make all the repairs, he or she is enrolled in a Priority Service Program, which basically guarantees the usability and serviceability of that unit for 12 months. If the unit has a failure in season and CAS can't fix it within 24 hrs., it will send out a loaner unit at no cost.

"It really puts the monkey on our back to perform," says Grant Hustad, CAS president and CEO. "And it also fills up our service department in the off season so we have more time available to take care of problems in season."

His best advice for farmers seeking a quality inspection is to offer to pay the dealer for 6 to 8 hrs. of labor for a qualified technician. "I don't know of anybody who's going to provide a quality inspection if they're not paid for it," he says. "I don't want a free job here. I want a good job."

The dealership has 700 units signed up so far this year and expects to have 1,000 by the end of the year.

Gerald Rust, a corn and soybean farmer from Glenwood, MN, is a customer. He has enrolled not only his combine but also his tractors in the Priority Service Program since 1991. His total machinery repair bill has dropped from $22/acre down to $12/acre currently, which he credits to the program. "The technicians catch things long before they turn into major problems." Repair bills for his combine average $1,000/yr.

Room for variation. But not every dealer follows Beal's formula. For example, Kibble Equipment doesn't use a checklist. The reason? "A 150-point checklist is just a number to me," says Goebel. "Maybe one dealer does 125 points and another does 100 points. How do you determine how many points to cover?"

Instead, technicians start with a blank piece of paper and write down everything that needs to be repaired to make it function through the season. They look at every point on the machine and go over the list with the customer, who has the final say.

The inspection takes three to four hours, and the customer pays $90 plus hauling. They offer a graduated parts discount ranging from 3 to 12% based on the amount of service work performed. "We could probably get more, but we look at the fact of rolling through a lot of customer work. The customer still gets a good inspection and we gain a lot of service work that may have gone to someone else."

For an extra service call fee, they'll do the inspection on the farm. Why the option? "Some customers have about the same facilities we do. And there are a lot of farmers with big operations and have people they hire year-round. Those customers want to work on their own machines."

Kibble has been conducting inspection this way for 15 years and has been able to keep its shop busy year-round. "They don't have empty stalls very often," attests Beal. "That's a measure of customer trust and confidence."

Fred Haar Implement charges an hourly rate for in-season checkups and in the winter offers them for free. The reason? To encourage parts sales and keep technicians in off-peak months. Parts and labor are not discounted. They work from their own checklist. Technicians pull the shields and feeder house, inspect all points inside and make a check next to the items that need repair.

"We don't touch the machine until we show the farmer everything that needs to be done," says Haar. "They make the decision on the work." All inspections are done in the shop, and the customer pays for hauling.

Are combines being serviced right with this approach? "Let me put it to you this way," Haar says. "We started out in 1990 doing five inspections. The second year we did 10, and the next year we were up to 20. Right now we've got anywhere from 75 to 100 combines that come in each year. If customers didn't feel it was being done right, they wouldn't bring them back."

Schedule early. The best time to sign up is two weeks after harvest because it buys the deepest discounts, the most hauling value and the most detailing value, Beal says. That will vary by dealer.

Keep a record of repairs made. It will not only remind you of the work that has been done but can add value to the combine if you decide to sell.

Deere is making available to its dealers annual inspection stickers for cab windows to verify combine inspections. "There have been cases where the well-maintained, window-stickered units have been sold at a premium over non-maintained, non-stickered units," Beal says.

Documentation is especially important with the number of low-hour used combines changing hands under interest-free roll programs, he adds. "They are trading so many rolls that farmers are slacking off on their maintenance because they only have it for a year. So, for the guy who picks it up next year, it's 'Buyer better beware.'"

For more information about Beal's inspection checklist, have your dealer contact Taking Care of Business, Dept. FIN, Box 38, Allenspark, CO 80510-0038, 303/747-0447.

New from the 3i Show

Gooseneck trailer. If you're a cattleman looking for a new multiuse trailer, check out the McElroy Company's new 31-ft. Groundloader gooseneck convertible trailer that can be pulled with a 1- to 2-ton truck. Riding on regular 16-in. wheels, the trailer needs no chute to load livestock, and it can haul equipment, too. Other features include a swinging or sliding rear gate; an interior Gotcha Gate that locks top and bottom when slammed shut; and a tongue-and-groove recycled-rubber floor. Price: $16,500. Contact The McElroy Co., Dept. FIN, Box 302, Snyder, OK 73566, 800/424-0588.

ATV add-on. Called the Ultimate Blade, this 5-ft. blade from Trail-Buster Dozer fits on any 350-cc or larger four-wheeler. Powered by the ATV's battery, a handlebar-mounted switch raises and lowers the blade. With simple pins, you can quickly change the blade angle from straight to slanted (20 in either direction). The blade is constructed from 1/4-in. steel, with a replaceable scraper bottom. A spring-loaded blade pivots when it encounters immovable objects. And, according to the company, the blade is easy to install. Price: $849. Contact Trail-Buster Dozer Inc., Dept. FIN, 272 Main, Grainfield, KS 67737, 913/ 673-4798.

Tiny tillage. For those small tillage jobs, hitch your ATV or garden tractor to the new 4-ft.-wide Quadivator deluxe cultivator. The base model is a tandem disc with a gang of 7-in. shovels. Depth is controlled electronically with the flick of a switch. Other optional accessories include 4-in. shovels, 1-ft. cultivator extension, 1 1/2-in. spikes and shank stiffeners. And to accomplish more tasks, you can add a potato hiller, potato digger, box scraper and leveler, lawn roller, lawn aerator or barbwire dispenser. Base price: $1,099. Contact Swisher Mower and Machine Co., Dept. FIN, Box 67, Warrensburg, MO 64093, 800/222-8183.

Bring home the harvest. This Canadian-built grain cart from Bourgault holds 1,100 bu. with an unload speed of 350 bu./min. A walking axle and eight flotation tires can carry a full load at 10 mph. The auger turret rotates 90 degrees in either direction and is built on a large brace to prevent side swinging that could cause turret damage. Other features include a complete clean-out system for auger and hopper, lighting package, low hopper height for better vision, wide stance for hilly conditions and a Cat. IV hitch to match the biggest 4-wd tractors. Price: $31,000. Contact Bourgault Industries, Dept. FIN, Box 1118, Minot, ND 58702, 701/852-8800.

Heavy hauling. Timpte is offering a new 42-ft. super hopper grain trailer with 66-in. sides that can hold 1,500 or 1,600 cu. Ft. of grain in a 96- or 102-in.width, respectively. It features 49-in.-wide corrugated side panels of double-wall construction, one large hopper with 27-in. ground clearance, rack and pinion trap operators, LED lights and more. And you can select from hundreds of options to customize the trailer. Price: $23,700. Contact Timpte Inc., Dept. FIN, 1827 Industrial Dr., David City, NE 68632, 402/367-3056.

Mix and feed Art's-Way just introduced its new generation SupRaMix 1000 series of three models that will hold from 425 to 710 cu. ft. New features include an extended conveyor that can discharge from either side, a screened front shield, an improved magnet slide tray, a new platform design, a relief valve for the door, axle weigh bar guarding to protect from mud, a top cone on scroll to prevent feed piling and new indicator mounts. Price: $28,000 to $53,000. Contact Arts-Way Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Hwy. 9 West, Armstrong, IA 50514-0288, 712/864-3131.

Masters of invention

Our annual trek to the Minnesota Inventors Congress in Redwood Falls found a collection of creations from devisers of designs - many of which could soon hit the market.

Conjure up an image of an inventor and you'll probably come up with a wild-haired, bespectacled man in a white lab coat frantically working over bubbling test tubes. Not so with the inventors we talked with at this year's show. They're as normal as you and me and think practically when creating their time-saving ideas for the farm. Yet many have created what may become a mother lode.

LPEFI. The Liquid Propane Electronic Fuel Injection (LPEFI) system from Bi-Phase Technologies was the Grand Prize winner at the show.

The company devised a way for its propane injector system to work the same as a gas injector but with more power. It generates more horsepower and torque than gasoline, has quicker throttle response, will be cheaper to run than gas or diesel and rates below Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standards (ULEV), according to the inventor.

The unit comes complete with a 56-gal. fuel tank and is now available for Dodge trucks with 8,800- to 15,000-lb. GVWR and a 5.9L, V-8 engine. It will be available on Ford and all Dodge trucks by March 1999 and on Chevy and GMCs by August 1999. Bi-Phase's warranty will cover the engine and the catalytic converter. Price: $2,500. Contact Bi-Phase Technologies Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 146, Lake Lillian, MN 56253, 320/ 664-7000.

Bulk Seed Tender. Inventor Gary Stienessen built his Bulk Seed Tender with three hoppers to carry three different varieties of seed at one time. Each hopper carries 60 bu. of product.

The unit can be mounted on a truck, running gear or gooseneck trailer and is equipped with its own scale to weigh seed as it's loaded or unloaded. Price: $6,500. Contact Gary Stienessen, Dept. FIN, Rt. 1, Box 23, Taunton, MN 56291, 507/224-2236.

Slider Hitch for no-tillers. Place seed between residue rows and reduce the havoc that stubble can create on tractor tires and gauge wheels with Paul Schlobohm's Slider Hitch.

While you drive down the previous year's tire tracks, a hydraulic cylinder on the hitch allows you to slide the mounted planter 8 in. to the left or right to plant beside residue.

Handy Rinse. Also from Schlobohm is this chemical tank rinse system that is quick, safe and easy.

Jugs in 1- or 21/2-gal. sizes are placed on top of the unit's rinse pipe. As chemicals empty out, the rinse system sprays the inside of the jug to comply with triple-rinsing rules. Prices: Not available at press time. Contact Paul Schlobohm, Dept. FIN, 47527 219th St., Aurora, SD 57002, 605/693-4346.

Mirror Wipers. Keep your truck or tractor side mirrors clean and clear for safe driving with Mirror Wipers from inventor Arnold Rudningen.

A toggle switch mounted in the cab of your truck or tractor lets you operate windshield wash fluid and the wiper as needed. The wiper fits any rectangular mirror, uses standard wiper blades and operates on 12v. Contact Arnold Rudningen, Dept. FIN, 4878 E. 255th St., Faribault, MN 55021, 507/334-7641.

Veteran inventor. It was Tim Krohn's second year at the show and once again his ideas won him an award.

Krohn's T-Screen will keep dirt, debris and bugs from flying in the back window of your pickup. The screen attaches to the truck with hook and latch material. It comes in aluminum or black finish and features weather stripping to keep water from settling between the window frame and the T-Screen. It's available in any size.

His other product, the Silver Squeegee, is deemed a must for livestock producers. The long-handled squeegee features a high-powered trigger that forces water through a hollow, aluminum tube to the squeegee where holes are drilled. Pressurized water sprays through the holes while you clean floors or walls. Prices: Not available at press time. Contact Krohn Industries, Dept. FIN, Rt. 1, Box 79, Winthrop, MN 55396, 507/834-9806.

Supermower. Why would anyone ditch a perfectly good swather just because it isn't used anymore? Jule Jacobson proves that you can put an old swather to new use with his Supermower.

This past winter he bought a 1983 Owatonna 260 hydrostatic swather and a 7-ft. Befco cyclone mower. He lowered the swather 13 in. to lower the center of gravity and narrowed the power unit 38 in. so its wheels would track inside the mower's deck.

The hydrostatic drive provides zero turning radius and the mower can be front mounted.

According to Jacobson, it's easier to mow because you look straight ahead without craning your neck, and it gets in spots other mowers can't reach. A farmer/observer lamented that he just got rid of his Owatonna swather; now after seeing Jacobson's Supermower, he wishes he hadn't. Contact Jule Jacobson, Dept. FIN, Box 53, Porter, MN 56280, 507/296-4514.

Roller Chain Ruler. John Kapphahn grew tired of counting each and every chain link at the parts store when he needed chain replacement. What he devised is so simple, you'll wonder why you didn't think of it yourself.

Kapphahn's numbered Roller Chain Rulers feature sprockets that hold broken or new chain. The numbers coincide with how many links of chain you'll need. Kapphahn notes, no matter if you need to replace a 15- or a 150-link chain, his ruler will eliminate a miscount.

The rulers come in 40-, 50- and 60-count sizes (50- and 60-count rulers also count heavy chain). They're made from recycled plastic milk jugs and are unaffected by gas, solvents or oils. Price: Set of three, $29.95. Contact Roller Chain Ruler, Dept. FIN, Rt. 1, Box 85, Elbow Lake, MN 56531, 218/685-4604.

Garden Master. This labor-saving device, built by Noren Olson, can plant up to 1/4-acre gardens and who knows if it could lead to row-crop farming. You plant in a circular pattern while sitting on the unit's carrier. The carrier is mounted on a 60-ft.-long beam that features a pulley system; as the Garden Master circles the row, you turn a wheel to move up and down the beam in desired row spacing. The unit runs on a gas engine (for cultivating or planting) or a 12v electric engine (for harvesting) and is available with either a hydraulic drive or a belt and chain drive. Center posts allow you to plant more than one garden; simply transfer the unit from post to post. Olson is looking for a manufacturer. Contact Noren Olson, Dept. FIN, 930 3rd St. N., St. James, MN 56081, 507/375-4454.

All-terrain drum mover. Bruce Hawkins' Drum Hustler II lets you move and rearrange 15- to 85-gal drums (weighing up to 1,000 lbs.) without the risk of hurting your back. The two wheeler uses balance and leverage to put most of the weight of the drum on the unit. A yoke hugs the lid of the drum and a foot pedal hydraulically raises it for transport. Larger tires let you travel over rough terrain. Price: $355. Contact Circle H Industries, Dept. FIN, 7882 E. Hwy. 92, Hereford, AZ 85615, 520/ 366-5540.