By JOHN O'CONNELL
POCATELLO, Idaho -- The 2013 farm equipment should increase the speed and precision of field work while using inputs much more efficiently, according to vendors with displays at the 34th Eastern Idaho Ag Expo.
The annual expo, hosted by Spectra Productions in Pocatello's Holt Arena from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 22-23 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 24, includes more than 100 equipment vendors and support industry officials. It's scheduled in conjunction with the 45th Annual Potato Conference, featuring lectures on potato issues and a trade show from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 23 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Idaho State University student union building.
Dexter Sitzer, general manager of North Dakota-based Harriston Industries, claims his company's new Clod Hopper can rid potatoes bound for storage of dirt faster than any machine on the market. While his conventional Clod Hoppers remove dirt with two rollers, the new machine has a table to divert spuds into two sets of rollers. The four-roller model can process 220 tons of potatoes and dirt her hour, Sitzer said.
Spudnik Equipment, a Blackfoot, Idaho, potato harvesting equipment maker, has found eight-row potato planters are becoming increasingly popular among growers seeking to cover ground faster. However, farmers have been filling them unevenly with conveyors designed for six-row planters, said Russ Woodland, a Spudnik production manager. Woodland said Spudnik has unveiled a new conveyor designed to accommodate eight-row planters.
"Operating costs have gone up, so time is definitely a factor," Woodland said. "The trend is toward time and efficiency. The quicker they can get it in and the quicker they can get it out, the happier they are."
He said improvements to Spudnik's new planters should facilitate more even planting on rough and hilly terrain.
Dave Smith, with the Burley, Idaho, Case IH dealership Ag-West, considers the shift toward Tier 4 engines, which dramatically improve both fuel efficiency and emissions, to be the most significant innovation in 2013 equipment.
He said Case also has high hopes for its new Capstan PinPoint spray systems, which allow operators to adjust pressure to individual nozzles in their spray systems, helping growers spray more efficiently by avoiding over-application.
Curt Ruehl, with G & R Ag Products in Caldwell, Idaho, believes 2013 chemical and fertilizer spreaders, guided by GPS systems and capable of shutting on and off to avoid duplicating applications, improve precision by 3-5 percent over last year's equipment. They can also apply customized fertilizer blends at varying depths in the ground.
Logan Farm Equipment in Sugar City, Idaho, offers the new Trac-Pro Stinger -- a potato conveyor with a telescopic extension capable of reaching spud trucks without the necessity of precise parking.
"It seems like the guys can buy one of these versus two of the straight (conveyors) because of the versatility of them," said Phil Browning, a service technician with the business.