One Through Time

Innovative Planting Operation on Duncan Circle D Farms

Published in the August 2009 Issue Published online: Aug 03, 2009 Nancy Sanchez, Editor
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Looking for a better opportunity, Moon went to work for Paul Duncan, and for the past 18 years he has enjoyed managing the sugarbeet section of the farm.

This spring, 2009, the staff of Sugar Producer made an early morning visit to one of the sugarbeet fields managed by Moon. It was significant because they were using a brand new piece of equipment for strip-tilling, planting and applying fertilizer in one pass.

This new piece of equipment is a prototype manufactured by Schlagel Manufacturing from Torrington, Wyo.

When spring planting comes around it is a challenge for this section of the farm to get the beet seed securely in the ground.

“We have been fighting the beet thing forever,” said Moon. “If you work the ground too much, the wind blows the seed out and if we don’t work it enough we can’t get a good seed bed.”

This prototype from Schlagel is impressive. Moon says he thinks it is going work very well. Currently they were planting in a harvested corn field where the stalks were on 30 inch rows. Corn debris has the root balls that can cause trouble and also in this field there are an abundance of rocks.

Strip-Till Prototype

“When we first started looking at strip-till we brought out a machine and started playing with it, and due to the rocks, etc. The shanks would trip every time it hit a rock,” said Moon. “A shank would trip—we would pick it up and reset it, which would take a lot of time. And then go again until we had to stop and reset. It was very time consuming.”

Moon and Duncan talked with Ron at Schlagel and they came up with a special shank with the hydraulics that reset itself when it trips. “It is working very well, we have a lot of rod out there,” said Moon. Paul Zimmer, sales at Schlagel, came out to help set up the strip-till equipment and made sure it was working correctly.

At the time we were interviewing Moon on the farm they had planted over 400 acres. The only things that they were going to need to look into were a couple of rams that were leaking on the hydraulics, so the seals will need to be replaced. “It is awesome, just a few little bugs that need to be worked out,” said Moon.



As the only Duncan to return to the family farm after recently graduating from BYU, Taylor is energized about this new equipment setup. Duncan says, “It is fun! This is a brand new deal, the tractor pulling the strip-till, planter and liquid fertilizer tank mounted on top the strip-till.”

Last year Schlagel came out to the Duncan farm and did a strip-till demonstration. This particular strip-till is a prototype with hydraulic shanks, and Duncan notes that there have been numerous other beet growers come out to take a look at the equipment.

“I have really enjoyed the farming lifestyle,” says Duncan, “there is so much technology involved. It is amazing how the general public don’t really know or understand how specialized farming is.” While he was attending college, Duncan recalls asking people what their perspectives of farming were. He enjoyed giving them descriptions on how tractors run on GPS, for example. “They had no idea how involved and different it really is. Describing the operation and all the technology was amazing to people.”

With his BYU degree in business, Duncan is set to use his education in keeping track of the costs for this year which include time, labor, gallons of diesel, breakdown time, etc.

The three-in-one-pass saves money and Duncan will keep close track of it all because that piece of equipment is expensive. “Experience in business is needed to run a farm as it is and now farming is run as a business,” explains Duncan, “I hope I can stay and keep the family farm going.”