Innovative irrigation equipment creates ease for farmers
February 27, 2012
Every farmer who has a center pivot knows how hard it can be to work on one if you are alone. Once you think the problem is fixed, then you have to hike back to the center to turn the unit on and test it out.
For two farmers from Northern Nebraska, this problem was ongoing, and they were frustrated. That is when Justin Loeffler and Clint VanderWey decided they were going to do something about the problem.
“One day at a family gathering, Justin and I were discussing our farming and irrigation jobs. We were noticing that we were having some of the same challenges in getting things done efficiently. Justin decided we needed a remote control that would work on all of our irrigation systems. I knew how to build one, and the Pivot Rx and L&V Innovations was born,” said VanderWey.
“I was tired of doing it on my own. We were out there working on these pivots all day long, and that required multiple trips in and out of the field. It wasn’t time effective, and it cost us time and cost us money,” said Loeffler.
The Pivot RX is a portable robotic button pusher that allows a farmer to be out in the field, and control the unit using a portable remote system.
“You can control the unit by yourself, and start and stop the system with ease. The unit attaches to the pivot’s panel with magnets, so there is no hardwiring. You put it on, do the work you need to do, and take it off. It’s really easy to use,” said Loeffler.
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The Pivot RX is not designed for only one brand of pivot. In fact, Loeffler and VanderWey have figured out how to have interchangeable bases that attached to the device, so that a farmer only needs to buy one device for an entire farm.
“That was the hardest part of developing this product. Now, every time a new panel comes out, we develop new bases to go with it,” said Loeffler.
The device is built to handle the wear and tear farmers put on equipment. Loeffler said, “We built this for farmers, and we know how rough they are on things. The case is waterproof up to 20 feet of water, and is indestructible. The batteries have a long life, and should only need to be charged once in a while.”
In addition to the Pivot RX, L&V Innovations also created a pivot flusher, which allows farmers to flush a pivot every time the unit is turned on and off.
“Having a pivot full of sand is a problem that every farmer has. Older wells are pumping up sand, and that is filling up the pivots with sand. We recognize this problem,” said Loeffler.
He continued, “The pivot flusher will automatically flush the sand and sediment out. As the pivot pressurizes, it will blow that sand out, and then slowly close. Then you can fully irrigate. Once the pressure is released, it flushes again. It purely runs off of pressure.”
The designs for the products are all created in-house by VanderWey. He has been working with his hands all his life.
“As a child, my grandpa spent quite a bit of time teaching me to build items using metal from his scrap iron pile. I built everything from gate latches to rockets. My dad and grandpa taught me how to weld, build circuits and machine. During high school, I began working for a large farming operation in North Central Nebraska and South Central South Dakota. During these years, I discovered the challenges farmers face every day,” said VanderWey.
He believes in working smarter, not harder. “Generally, ideas come to me while I’m working. I really don’t like to work harder than I have to, so I daydream of ways to make my job easier. I know that everything can be improved, and I build on that concept. When I come up with a solid idea for something practical, I start building it from scratch,” he said.
Once a product is built, L&V Innovations tests the equipment using what they feel is the best situation: in the hands of farmers.
Loeffler said, “You can talk to any grower or any farmer, and they are the smartest people on earth. The best products out there are the ones that are backed by these people. If you get growers input, you know you have a good product. We really stress the fact that any input growers have is good. The Pivot RX went through three phases, and it was producer driven. We welcome any new ideas.”
This input has allowed the products to develop as the farmers see fit, because it is a product they will use nearly daily. Listening to farmers is just one of they ways that Loeffler and VanderWey show they are committed to the farmers.
Instead of direct sales of the products, L&V Innovations uses dealers located across several states to sell their products.
“Who better to sell an irrigation product than irrigation dealers? If growers need help, they can go to their local dealers and talk to someone in person, instead of us on the phone. It’s a convenience for the customers as well. When we were doing direct sales, we felt we couldn’t service customers the way they needed to be treated. So we wanted dealers who were driven by costumer service instead,” said Loeffler.
The L&V Innovations Mill is located in Crookston, Neb., just South of the South Dakota line. They use local help to build the products, because they believe it is important to help out the local community.
“We use a lot of local help. We are not outsourcing to other states, but to local shops. There is a machine shop that does all of our metal. There is a welding shop that welds together what we need. All the machining is done in house, and we have three employees that are full time,” said Loeffler.
He continued, “We could outsource, but the quality isn’t there. We want the products to last. We try to keep everything local; help out the community and be involved, and make sure the local shop guys have business coming their way. That is important to us.”
This local attitude is what has helped L&V Innovations become successful in just a few short years, and they hope to continue rolling out new products each year at the Husker Harvest Days. Taking a problem and solving it for farmers is what these two enjoy doing.
“In building the components of our products, I am able to use my hobbies to build useful items. To see something that I made with my own two hands come together and work is extremely satisfying,” said VanderWey.
For more information, please contact Justin Loeffler, Sales Manager, at (308) 520-5648, Justin@LVinnovations.com or visit LVinnovations.com.