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All Around the Farm Idea of the Month: December 2009

In just two weeks, Todd Koertge built a grain leg tower. Then he did his own installation, saving about $30,000 in the process.

Actually, he and his neighbors, Tim and Trevor Ridgely, Jason Bunting, and Jack Farmer, built two towers in two weeks. The second is on the Ridgely farm. Koertge's is 125 feet high and has a platform on the top for a hoist system. He added I-beam trolleys they can hook onto each of the downspouts to put them up.

"We put up our own downspouts with cables by pulling them up with the tractor," says Koertge. He did have some help with the installation, too, but they only had to rent a crane for one day, he says, to erect the tower itself.

Koertge needed a taller grain leg, he says, because he didn't have the right setup to reach his bins with all the different cattle feed supplements.

Neither did he have room for guide cables. But the 2 feet of concrete for ballast at the bottom of the 10-foot widex20-foot-longx8-foot-deep grain pit fixed that.

The pit has a stainless steel fertilizer buggy serving as a 200-bushel dump hopper. A stainless steel U-trough auger purchased at auction carries grain from the hopper to the leg. "A very low-cost but fast option," says Koertge. A baffle regulates the flow to the leg.

"We probably way overbuilt since we used preowned but unused 1/2-inch-thick oil field pipe found at an auction," he says.

Future plans involve adding a tank for loadout. Right now they use the leg to tie into other bins, which "is good to have for segregating grain, GMOs, things like that," he explains.

Koertge says his tower is working out very well. And there's been an unexpected benefit -- free Internet service in exchange for letting the provider put a tower on top of his platform.

Koertge is the next recipient of a $2,500 Firestone in-store credit offer for having his idea chosen as the Idea Of The Month. See page 78 to learn how to send in your ideas.

  • Operation: 140-head dairy farm; 800 acres in corn, soybeans, and wheat. "This year we also cut 100 acres of clover seed and put up hay," says Todd.
  • Mom: Norma Lou Koertge is still very much involved in the dairy business, Todd says.
  • Hobby: Buying used equipment at auctions to resell after repairing or modifying.
  • Favorite equipment: "My employees and I use the wire welder more than anything else," Todd says. Koertge Farms does about 90% of its own mechanical work.
  • Looking for: An ironworker.
  • Next project: Building two above-ground manure pits (60'×80' and 60'×120').
  • Farm dog: White German shepherd named Nanook.

In just two weeks, Todd Koertge built a grain leg tower. Then he did his own installation, saving about $30,000 in the process.

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