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All Around the Farm Idea of the Month

Range of motion, extension, and endurance are qualities found in an athlete. The homebuilt welding cart boom at Wittman Farms shop in Lapwai, Idaho, features the same strengths.

"We needed to be able to get underneath equipment as well as on top," says Bob Wittman. This device will lower to 4 feet off the ground or rise enough to let the operator reach the top of a 16-foot-tall combine.

Its origin is another farmer-to-farmer shared idea. A welder salesman described one he'd seen on another farmer's cart to the Wittmans. But it was up to the Wittmans to figure out how to construct it.

Wittman emphasizes that it was a group effort: his cousin, dad, and uncle collaborated. "We visualized what we wanted and then built it ourselves," he says. "We had to shorten the original boom length enough so it wouldn't tip when it was fully extended and swiveled to the side." He says the right size tires helped, in addition to the outriggers they added.

In over 25 years, the only thing they've had to replace in the entire factory-grade unit is "the wire feed welding lead and head -- about three times," says Wittman.

  • Family farm: Crops manager for Wittman Farms, a diverse crops, timber, and cattle operation near Culdesac, Idaho. Responsible for 9,000 acres of wheat, barley, peas, lentils, canola and other crops. His partners are cousins Dick and Todd and nephew Pete.
  • Family: Bob and his wife, Karen, have three grown sons in their 20s: Nicholas, Andrew, and James.
  • Favorite equipment: The farm's FlexiCoil 5000 no-till drill "is one of the greatest innovations on the farm in the last 10 to 15 years. Before that drill came along we'd spun a lot of wheels doing what we can do now in one pass," he says.
  • Next must-have: "We're looking at updating combines," says Bob.
  • Hobbies: Downhill and water skiing.
  • Anticipating: Retirement (or semi-retirement) so he can spend more time with the grandchildren and go fishing with Karen. The Wittmans live near the confluence of two pristine rivers, the Clearwater and the Snake.

Range of motion, extension, and endurance are qualities found in an athlete. The homebuilt welding cart boom at Wittman Farms shop in Lapwai, Idaho, features the same strengths.

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