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Proclaiming themselves "just country farmers," Colin Collins and his brother David, along with Colin’s son Clay, run a 1,500 acre soybean operation, plus timber land, in Union County, Miss., and in the best Jeffersonian tradition, lead lives of myriad interests, community service, neighborliness, independence, and self-sufficiency.
DAVID COLLINS, from left, his brother Colin, and Colin’s son, Clay, grow soybeans, and sometimes corn, in Union County, Miss.
Built a 15-row planter
And then, bit by bit, the details emerge: Their if-we-can-make-something-ourselves-and-save-some-money credo — example, combining two 8-row planters with 38-inch spacing to make a 15-row soybeans planter with 19-inch spacing and adding a caddy.
“It cost $20,000,” says Colin. “A new one would’ve been $100,000 and we’d have needed a bigger tractor to run the hydraulics. We got the idea from [Pontotoc, Miss. farmer] Tommy Harrison. It allows us to pull a much heavier planter with a smaller tractor, and save a lot of money in the process."
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And, he says of another of their equipment adaptations, "We've probably got the only direct-drive seed tender auger in existence.”
David interjects: “The auger was originally driven by a hydraulic motor, but when that motor failed, we tried to come up with a drive that wouldn’t require hydraulic power. So we mounted an old gas motor onto the auger itself and used sprockets to reduce rotation speed to a right-angle gearbox at the base of the auger.
“To remotely turn the auger off and on, I first tried an electric clutch that I took off of an old riding lawn mower, but that idea failed — too much mass to get it started spinning when I flipped the toggle switch. So I had to go back to the drawing board.
“I got a cheap go-kart motor that has a centrifugal wet clutch and hooked its throttle up to a 12 volt linear actuator that is controlled by a wireless remote control. Whenever I want to stop the auger from turning, I idle the engine by just pressing a button on the wireless remote control. To resume auguring, pressing the other button advances the throttle, which revs up the engine and engages the wet clutch. It works great, is very reliable, never chokes down, and no hydraulics required.”