A Business Built By Those Who Needed It

Schlagel Manufacturing in Torrington, Wyo

Published online: Jan 01, 2009 Feature Nancy I. Butler, editor
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Built on the premise that a farmer knows what he needs, Ron Schlagel put a system together that would combat the ferocious winds destined to blow out their newly planted crops. Wind erosion is a big issue in the prairie states. Mold board plow didn't work due to the trouble with the soil blowing and so Schlagel started to look at a different system. He discovered the no-till and strip-till systems were just starting on the market.

Schlagel started out with a chisel plow, but it didn't accomplish what they needed.
"We wanted to leave residue on the surface and to till the soil but the chisel didn't fulfill this method. Then we came across a machine by Bush Hog, named roll-till. It was basically a zone-till machine. We worked with it for a few years, but some it had shortcomings.
"We looked at all that was wrong with it and we looked at how we could make it better."

They needed a machine for the farm that would stand up to their expectations. So they built their first Schlagel strip-tillage equipment.
"After it was designed and we proved that it worked so well, the attitude among farmers was that it would not work on my farm. So we had to convince farmers that it would work."

It is a new way of thinking in terms of farming practices. Leaving residue on the field and then planting in that residue just seemed like it was the wrong thing to do. And yet, when the winds came up and the tiny seedlings were struggling to hang on, the residue became a protector for the vulnerable seedlings.
"This method works great but people were skeptical about using it on their own farms." Schlagel says it takes time to get others interested in trying this method.


Originally, Schlagel farmed 2,000 acres rotating corn and beets. Now his son Bryan farms and Ron runs the manufacturing business which is located on the farm.
Schlagel says the interesting part is that it is more of a challenge to run the manufacturing business than farming. The down side is that it is still a challenge making a dollar when the farming economy is down. When the economy is up they make a profit just like most businesses.
In areas where there were a lot of sprinklers Schlagel noticed the farmers were more progressive. He noted that if they could save $15 to $20 an acre over the whole farm with this new method then their thinking was they could save money as a whole.

They saw fewer trips across the field. Alot of farmers in Colorado made three passes, tilling and planting in one pass, spraying for weeds and then harvest and that is their program.
"Then with our machine they save money on fewer trips, grow better crops, and increase yield because they were conserving moisture. That is a really big item especially for those who irrigate. It also saves hours on the tractor and equipment."
"The beautiful thing about this system even with a compaction problem is it will take care of that problem."


"At the factory we have 20 employees. We build the equipment on the farm. The main salesman is Dave Zimmerer, he does great!" He will gladly haul equipment out to nearly any location for a field demonstration. In Idaho for example, Zimmerer has put on six or seven demos in various locations with positive response from the growers. Amalgamated agriculturalist, Robert Downard, the strip-till specialist for growers in the Snake River Sugarbeet growing region, continues to see major benefits for growers who have adopted the strip-till method.
Schlagel says, "We are one of the few manufacturers really suited for the prairie states. back east they have a different attitude about strip-till. they don't want to till deep. or dig 22-inch rows, and they aren't concerned about firming up the ground cause it rains back there all the time."

"We are going to continue to improve the product the best we can and make an afforable machine," continues Schlagel, "I can identify with the farmer because I have farmed many years."
Schlagel receives feedback from growers which they count on to make their product better. Some have very good ideas. "We had better listen to those ideas and lots of times you can take care of the problem. Because, for example, if you talk to the engineers at John Deere they will admit that all their best ideas came off the farm. The engineers were able to fine-tune the problems and fix them."


As growers contemplate adopting the strip-till method it is important to plan, at least a year ahead. Schlagel says, "With a machine like this, from the day you pull in and harvest that crop, you must ask what am I going to do that will affect my crop the next year. what will make it work the best. You must pay attention to how it will affect the next year's crop. Think about what you are doing. help make it work well, what am I going to do for this field, where is the moisture, is it going to be there next year?"

When using the strip-till machine it is important to look at what it is doing on the surface of the field and also what is it doing down below. If there are any questions Schlagel says to call. "We will always help with answers. I don't want a machine out in the field that is not working well."

To find out more about Schlagel Manufacturing visit their website at www. Schlagel.net, call 888-889-1504, or email at Schlagel@prairieweb.com