By Sarah Bowers-Peter
A lot of people would take full credit for coming up with an idea as innovative and promising as the AAID Control System.
But not Jake Kraayenbrink.
The Mapleton Township farmer is quick to acknowledge his idea to reduce soil compaction has been a team effort between OMAFRA’s Corn Specialist Greg Stewart, engineer Sam Bradshaw, and local business such as engineer Maurice Veldhuis, Weberway and Moorefield Tire.
“Everything came together within 10 km of here,” he says with pride.
The saying “Necessity is the mother of invention” applies here. Kraayenbrink was faced with a dilemma. As the operator of a 325 farrow to finish swine operation, he had two farms but that wasn’t enough acreage to utilize his manure capacity.
When he approached other farmers about spreading on their fields, the answer was swift.
“There were farmers who would say, ‘you don’t come on our land without a deflation system,” he said. The concern was that the liquid manure tank, along with the tractor, would provide too much compaction. Compaction prevents optimum root growth and development in plants. “It’s a very big problem that you can’t really put a price on,” he said, adding compaction has been proven to impact soil for up to 11 years.
In 2002 Kraayenbrink partnered with the University of Guelph. With multiple trips to Europe, where inflation/deflation systems are more common, countless designs and redesigns, consulting with universities and similar inflation manufacturers, the Active Air Inflation and Deflation System was ready for the marketplace. While similar systems have been designed for trucks in the U.S., the transition time was too long and did not allow for on-rim installation, as Kraayenbrink’s does. Controls are located in the cab of the tractor, while the compressor and “brain” of the system is installed on the tanker. He ensured the design was simple enough that the entire system could be detached and moved to another tanker.
Kraayenbrink believes it is a matter of time before the product catches on, given the multiple benefits, outside of eliminating soil compaction. Fuel costs decrease, as does wear and tear on tires, and time is saved due to lack of slippage in the field. For an increasing number of farmers who travel on roadways with their equipment, this air metering system is invaluable.
While many would think higher air pressure is best, Kraayenbrink says softer tires are best on soft surfaces, such as soil, and harder tires are best for hard surfaces. Within 30 seconds, the operator can adjust the tire pressure to two preset levels. With a compressor mounted on the equipment, re-inflating the tires for the return trip home is just as easy. Safety designs, such as failing to allow the tires to deflate if the compressor is empty ensures the vehicle won’t run with flat tires.
“Anything that goes on the road and the land should have this system,” he said. “I think it’s really going to become part of agriculture as we know it.”
With the initial system designed for liquid manure tankers, Kraayenbrink has since developed a model for tractors. The new design allows the operator to chose front, rear or tanker deflation and inflation.
The only thing better than reducing the amount of compaction is reducing the number of times a farmer must be on the field. This was another challenge for Kraayenbrink. He has developed manure/seed injection system that allows farmers to go from open field to seeded and fertilized in one step. Kraayenbrink feels very strongly about manure injection, thanks to a statement from his uncle.
“Do you know how much money you are throwing in the air?” said Kraayenbrink, quoting his uncle, who was involved with the Ministry of Agriculture in Holland. Traditional rotary manure spreading allows nutrients to vaporize. “When you are smelling manure, you are smelling money.” said Kraayenbrink, adding 70 per cent value is lost in vapour. Add to this the opposition many farmers face from area residents when it comes time to fertilize organically, and there is a more pressure to get the manure into the soil quickly.
To further this belief, Kraayenbrink is hosting a Manure Demo Day, sponsored by AgriBrink, Heartland Region Soil & Crop, OMAFRA, and Ontario Pork on Tuesday, Aug. 21 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at his home farm, located at 8182 Concession 16. Technical experts will be on hand: injection systems from Huskey, Nuhn, Harvey Martin, University of Guelph, and Kraayenbrink’s design will join five box spreader models. There will be discussion on precision liquid and solid manure applications. Open to the public, the event will also give attendees a chance to see the AAID Control System for themselves, as the event kicks off with the display.