Float your boat in a slurry moat

It used to be impossible to adequately mix, stir and aerate stratified layers in a large 10-acre manure lagoon using on-shore equipment or floating aerators.

However, Nuhn has made the job possible with a new amphibious machine it calls the Lagoon Crawler.

“You drive it into the lagoon. Your four-wheel steering and forward- backward control is all through the four hydraulically driven tires,” said Chris Taylor, a steel fabricator at the Nuhn factory.

The wet-dry control system is similar to remote control hobby vehicles. The operator sits a comfortable distance away, up wind from the lagoon, and radios his driving inputs to the on-board computer, which turns the driving signals into instructions for the four hydraulic motors.

Taylor said company president Ian Nuhn considered a steering system in which the tires actually turned left and right, but decided that the hydraulic motors were needed anyway for propulsion so they might as well steer with them as well.

Once the Crawler is floating in the slurry, the same kind of driving inputs radioed to the on-board computer are turned into instructions for the seven agitator nozzles.

For example, an operator who wants a sharp left-hand turn blasts slurry from the front right nozzle and the left rear nozzle at the same time.

Blasting with the large rear nozzle as well will provide a tighter turn.

The operator might spend hours working every inch of a lagoon multiple times until he’s satisfied all stratified layers have been thoroughly mixed and all clumps broken down.

“The Crawler is designed for those big lagoons, five to 10 acres,” Taylor said. “Those are the in-ground dugouts that are more common in the States where the manure regulations are looser.”

Taylor said many lagoons develop a sand island in the middle after years of agitating from the shores or trying to agitate with smaller floating devices. He said it’s been nearly impossible to deal with the islands until now.

The Lagoon Crawler can methodically work its way around the island, gradually eroding the outer edges until it’s gone.

Other types of machines have been tried, but they become stuck in the muck. It’s a big dirty challenge to get them out.

“We were very careful to keep the weight down so it floats and hovers well. You want light weight, especially when the liquid is all pumped out and your driving on the bottom,” Taylor said.

“If we get stuck on a sand island, Ian Nuhn designed it with a hydraulic lift so the operator can raise the Crawler five feet above its hovering height.”

The frame is designed around commercially available pontoons. The entire pumping system consists of off-the-shelf Nuhn-designed components. On-off valves for the nozzles are also readily available. Everything is powered by a 160 horsepower Cummins diesel.

“The whole key to making this work is the header pump,” he said.

“We use that same pump on our lagoon pumps and tractor pumps. There’s less resistance because we have three outlets. It uses less power and pumps more liquid. On our tractor pumps, this same header pump on a 135 h.p. tractor pumps 7,000 gallons per minute.”

Nuhn said the header pump moves 100,000 gallons of liquid manure per gallon of diesel fuel burned, which is half the amount of diesel burned by conventional pumps moving the same volume of manure.

Time is the other measurable factor when evaluating slurry pumps.

Nuhn said its eight inch header agitator pump is able to break through the crust and thoroughly mix a slurry pit in half the time required by conventional pumps.

For more information, contact Ian Nuhn at 519-393-6284 or visit www.nuhn.ca.

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