Self-Propelled Rock Picker Sweeps Fields Clean
A self-propelled rock picker developed by a central Minnesota farmer can sweep a field clean of 2 to 15-in. rocks, faster than any rock picker we've seen. Inventor Mel Aho's brother Merf now uses the machine to do custom rock picking for as little as $100 per acre, depending on field conditions. The partners plan to begin marketing the machines, but prices have not yet been determined.
Mel Aho began working on the picker after being frustrated with conventional rock pickers in a particularly rocky field. He and a Washington state farmer/friend, Perry Gilmour, began collaborating on a new-style picker.
In field tests, the unit has removed 1,500 cu. yds. of rock from 55 acres in 65 machine hours. It can make a single pass over 30 to 35 acres in a 10 to 12-hour day and produce 25 to 30, 8-cu. yd. loads of rock a day.
The RP1000 is a combination of off-the-shelf and fabricated components. The base power unit is the New Idea 803C power unit with a Cummins engine. Major elements of the picker include gathering arms, conveyers and a hydraulic side-dump cart.
The outriggers unfold from transit position alongside the cab in a V-shaped angle. Steel ribbed rollers supported on a wheeled frame churn the soil surface to a depth of 6 in. Rocks roll toward the center where they are gathered onto a conveyer. It moves them up and into a rolling basket that filters dirt back to the field. Rocks larger than 2 in. roll to the rear and onto a second conveyer that deposits them in a trailing side-dump cart.
Aho explains that being able to unload to a dump truck for transport to field edges allows him to keep moving in the field. He notes that clearing his once rocky fields has paid off at planting and harvest. Field operations have increased from 3 to 3 1/2 mph to running between 6 and 7 mph. He no longer fears picking up rocks with his combine. Reduced wear and tear on machines means reduced time and expense in the shop.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Merf Aho (ph 603 365-7183;;

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #3