BRANDON — There are countless rock pickers designed for skid steer loaders. One of the most interesting employs a rotating cage that picks up rocks and shakes out the dirt and stubble.
The Flexxifinger Quicker Picker is designed to address some of the drawbacks found in other skid steer rock pickers, says Flexxifinger representative Phil Reddekopp.
“Yes, there are a lot of machines on the market. Probably the most well known in the prairie provinces is the Reel Pick. The drawback to this machine is that it only picks rocks in non-trash conditions and only picks rocks that are above ground,” Reddekopp said.
“Even if the rock is half above ground and half buried, you can’t get it. If you try to dig it out, all you get is a bucket full of dirt. That means you have to cultivate and then rake a field. So we decided to address that issue.
“With the rotary rock picker you can actually dig rocks out of the ground. You can pick when it’s wet. You can pick in trash no problem. Even in corn stubble, you can dig rocks and put them in the rotary along with the root balls. As long as there’s a stone or two in the cage, as you spin it, the rocks will beat the trash and pulverize it and drop it out.”
Reddekopp said the cage’s steel bars are 2.5 inches apart. The pieces of the corn root ball fall to the ground once they have been beaten down to that size.
Reddekopp has found industrial uses for the rotary system since introducing the Quicker Picker 10 years ago. By adding different screens around the drum, as tight as a quarter of an inch, the company has been able to sell the system to coal plants, gypsum plants and for companies that handle topsoil and granular fertilizer. Some people buy the rotary to tumble and clean firewood for sale.
He said the machine is virtually indestructible. The main shaft is 4.5 inches in diameter running in big bearings like a semi truck. There’s a 20,000 pound breakout force. Reddekopp said most powerful skid steer loaders are only around 100 horsepower, so they simply don’t have enough power to hurt the rotary picker.
“If you put it on a front end loader, then you can get 200 h.p. You can use the rotary’s down pressure to lift that loader and you still won’t hurt the machine.
“There is a time advantage to cultivating and then windrowing to get the rocks all in a row for quicker pickup. We say the most efficient system in terms of time is cultivate to bring up the rocks, windrow them, then have a rock truck or a rock trailer working in conjunction with your Quicker Picker. With the rotary spinning, you won’t be dumping any soil into the truck or trailer.
“GPS is another thing that can save a bunch of time. We have farmers who mark the stony spots on their GPS when they’re seeding or combining. Then come back when it’s convenient to get the rocks.”
There are two sizes of the Quicker Picker. Both models have direct gear drive and counter clockwise rotation and require a seven gallon hydraulic flow.
The larger model 800 on display at Manitoba Ag Days has a 36 inch diameter drum that is 48 inches deep and can handle 2,000 lb. of rock up to 34 inches in size. It lists for $9,995.
The smaller model 400 has a 30 inch diameter drum that is 36 inches deep. It can handle up to 900 lb. of rock up to 28 inches in size. It lists for $7,995.
Reddekopp said 90 percent of its customers buy the larger model 800, which works with a skid steer loader starting at about 60 h.p.