November 15, 2012
Remote-Controlled Manure Handling
By: Lora Berg, National Hog Farmer www.nationalhogfarmer.com Puck Custom Enterprises (PCE) featured two remote-controlled manure nutrient management tools at the recent North American Manure Expo in Prairie du Sac, WI. Ben Puck, president and founder of the Manning, IA-based company, demonstrated the Manure Lagoon Agitation Boat. Controlled from the lagoon’s rim, Puck operates what looks like a video game controller to maneuver the agitation boat, a floating pump and engine unit that uses high-pressure nozzles to shoot liquid downward to stir up solids on the bottom of the lagoon. A high-pressure cannon is mounted on the top of the boat, which shoots a recirculating stream onto the lagoon surface to break up any crust that has formed. Agitating lagoons in this manner helps provide a uniform product for application to the field, Puck explains. The agitation boat can be maneuvered to hard-to-reach spots or directed to piles of solids in the lagoon, which can be broken up and suspended for more effective pump-out. The John Deere 275-hp. engine and Cornell 6NHTB Cutter Pump, key features of the boat, can displace up to 4,000 gal. of manure/minute. Manure mixing and stirring is done by three nozzles. The nozzle on the front of the boat can be turned on or off to help steer the boat from right to left, in addition to mixing the manure. Two nozzles on the back of the boat propel the boat forward and backward and can be turned off remotely. By turning the nozzles on and off, the operator can produce more pressure out of select nozzles or the cannon to create more violent agitation. “The liquid is sucked from the top of the lagoon and blasted to the bottom of the lagoon to agitate the solids,” explains Jeremy Puck, PCE sales manager. A 127-gal. fuel tank uses 4-9 gal./hour, providing approximately 20 hours of run time. By comparison, a lagoon pump will burn up to 8-12 gal./hour, but one agitation boat can replace up to four lagoon pumps, which represents significant cost savings, he adds. The boat can be started and stopped from a distance of up to 600 ft. via the battery-operated handset. Controls on the handset allow the operator to prime the pump, steer right and left and forward and reverse, shut down the boat’s front cannon or nozzles, or turn the unit’s lights on and off. A handy hook on the front of the boat makes it easy to launch and retrieve from the lagoon. The agitation boat is transported on a 24-ft., tip-bed car trailer equipped with a 15,000-lb. winch. Once loaded, wings on the boat fold up at the flip of a switch for road transport. Agitation boats are available in several sizes. Blades can be added as part of a cutter pump option designed to work in lagoons with straw or weeds. MobileStar Pump Control System PCE’s MobileStar pump control system was also showcased in live demonstrations at the Manure Expo. MobileStar is a cellular, internet-based technology capable of sending and receiving engine signals that allow a user to monitor and operate manure pumps from anywhere an Internet connection can be made. An onboard cell phone number is used to access the Internet. From a computer or tablet, a user can turn the engine on or off, control and monitor engine RPM, open and close hydraulic gates on the pumps, prime the pumps, and read inflow and outflow pump pressures. These controls give the user the ability to fine-tune a system and manually synchronize pumps to optimize flow rates, Jeremy Puck explains. Up to three pump gates can be controlled from the tractor cab with this system. An engine control screen (shown below) allows the user to monitor fuel usage, oil pressure, engine temperature, engine hours and machine hours for each engine running on the system. “From the tractor cab the user starts, stops, throttles and monitors pumps so it isn’t necessary to have a person at each pump station,” he adds. In the near future, MobileStar pump control system users will be able to transfer information onto an Excel spreadsheet about operation hours, fuel use and gallons of manure pumped for each job. PCE also includes a liquid manure application business, which was launched in 1979 using small vacuum trucks. Today, in addition to applying over 220 million gallons of manure annually with three umbilical systems, the company manufactures hose carts, booster pumps and lead pumps, along with the agitation boat and MobileStar System. Learn more about the company online at http://www.puckenterprises.com.