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Northey visits Hagie Manufacturing

By Staff | Jul 30, 2010

Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

CLARION – The size of agriculture seems ever-expanding.

Bigger machinery. Larger acreages. Greater yields.

Hagie Manufacturing Co. is no different in its creation of sprayers and detasslers.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey was invited to see the process up close and personal as Hagie crews worked to assemble the company’s 2011 line of equipment.

The farmer and elected official said he was impressed by the level of sophistication in the assembly work.

“It’s the kind of stuff, and more, you see in other huge facilities everybody hears about,” Northey said. “A lot of people may not realize how sophisticated it is. It’s very impressive.”

The family-owned and operated company employs nearly 300 people from Wright and surrounding counties who build sprayers and detasslers from raw materials on-site.

Northey said he was quite impressed with the 120-foot-long booms that boast five sensors.

“When the ground rocks and rolls, and you’re trying to spray the right distance to the crop, this looks like it would make the process so much easier,” Northey said.

Northey said on his farm he uses a sprayer that has nice hydraulics which move the boom wings up and down, but proclaimed Hagie’s sensors were “so much better.”

The boom is controlled by a computer into which the operator can dial in the distance to spray – for example, 25 inches off the ground. Once that number is set, the sensors keep the boom at a consistent distance from the crop no matter the terrain.

“It’s one less thing the customer has to worry about,” said John Hagie, president of Hagie Manufacturing, adding that he’s amazed by the how large and quick equipment has become in the farming business.

“The longest booms used to be 40 feet long, and they’d only travel five mph,” Hagie said. “Now booms are up to 150 feet long and can travel in excess of 15 mph.”

He added he can spray his family’s 900-acre corn field in a day.

“It’s a long day,” he said, “but we can do it in a day.”

Now, hauling that grain could become faster too, since farmers can transport larger loads of corn across the state.

In the last legislative session, a law was passed allowing commercial motor vehicles to haul up to 90,000 pounds on six axles and 98,000 pounds on seven axles on non-interstate highways. The weights are the same allowed for livestock and construction vehicles.

Northey said the new law is good overall.

“Most folks feel it’ll be easier to move grain around a little more, and when you put in that extra axle, there’s less stress on the road,” Northey said. “Now, if you put that whole weight on a bridge there’s more stress potential.” That was one of the trade-offs, he said.

Additionally, Northey said the extra axle only adds 10 percent more weight, and that weight is better distributed. Hauling grain should become more efficient since producers can make fewer trips.

“I think people are still figuring out if it’s going to be worth it for the cost of additional axles,” Northey said. “Some other states have had (higher weight limits for transporting ag commodities) and it makes it easier when Iowa has similar limits. For example, livestock coming back from the West couldn’t be brought into Iowa on those trucks at that weight limit, and now they can.”

“I think overall it’s a good thing,” Northey said.

After leaving Hagie Manufacturing, the secretary attended an Iowa Learning Farm field day at the Smeltzer Trust Demonstration Farm in Otho.

Contact Lindsey Mutchler at (515) 573-2141 or lindsey@messengernews.net

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