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Going home to Nebraska

Agriculture.com Staff 11/14/2008 @ 9:03am

It's time again for the annual Agri-Lines Irrigation trek back to the home of the center pivot, Nebraska.

With a group of 30 or so eager customers in tow, Jeff Forsberg and I led the tour to the Zimmatic pivot factory in Lindsay, Nebraska. Getting this many independent individuals together at one time in one place can be a challenge. Differing rendezvous points and arrival times make for some tense moments.

Just to add to the excitement this year, a mechanical problem with our connecting flight in Denver caused a 90 minute delay in our plans. For those of you who have never been in the Denver airport, picture hundreds of people traveling miles within an enclosed facility rushing to their next gate. (Kind of like lab rats.) On the bright side, one of our customers that was coming from a different direction was able to catch up with us due to our delay.

After boarding a different plane, we were once again on our way to Omaha. Arriving in the rain, our shuttle bus met us at the airport and carried the group to the Strategic Air Command Museum at Offutt Field outside of Omaha. We took a very enjoyable glimpse of aviation past and present. A very fitting way to spend Veterans' Day. Following a short rest at our hotel, it was back aboard the bus to dine at one of Omaha's great steak houses.

Nothing like a dinner of Nebraska steak and Idaho potatoes to set the mood for our annual excursion. Several members of the Lindsay Corporation and Ag Direct (an ag lending bank that helps growers finance irrigation systems) welcomed us and joined our group for dinner. Back at the hotel we split into smaller groups to visit or tour some of Omaha's night life.

The following morning our group met for breakfast before boarding another bus bound for the factory at Lindsay. Once aboard we discovered the bus had 2 less seats than we had people to fill them. Back off the bus for another wait until a shiny bigger bus arrived. It's the little inconveniences that make a trip memorable. Aggravating, but memorable. Lindsay Is a small farming community in the middle of mile after mile of corn fields.

Well-kept farmsteads and feedlots line the road from Omaha west to Lindsay. It was refreshing to see an area that still has so much agricultural activity. Arriving at the factory we were given a short history of the Zimmatic origins and transition from a family owned blacksmith shop into a worldwide influence in the irrigation industry. Our band of irrigators were then split into smaller groups and fitted with protective glasses and headsets before proceeding into the plant.

Our leader had been with the company for over 30 years and had helped in the engineering evolution of the modern center pivot. We watched as pipe was formed from rolls of steel and welded without being touched by human hands. Flanges and fittings were attached by robotic welders then the pipe was moved through the galvanization process. In other buildings we saw control panels and other electronic components being manufactured.

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