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Machine developed in Bakken could lay drainage tile on Minnesota farms


OLIVIA, Minn. – A machine developed to lay pipeline in the Bakken Oil Field of North Dakota could be put to work in Minnesota counties to place large-diameter drainage tile parallel to open ditches.
Sub-surface lines would allow the public drainage systems to manage water without the costly improvement and permitting costs associated with upgrading ditches built 50 to 100 years ago, according to Kevin Lippert of Lippert Tile Plow LLC in Willmar.
Lippert, accompanied by Forrest Dahmes, of Two D Machines in New London, told the Renville County board of commissioners in west-central Minnesota this past week that Dahmes and his company could build a Talon Wheel Trencher that could install up to 60-inch diameter drainage tile 10-feet deep.
The trencher currently at work in North Dakota is capable of excavating a trench for a 36-inch diameter line eight feet deep at the rate of 30-feet per minute. And, it can work through the winter.
Frost that is 3 feet to 4 feet deep does not stop it.
Lippert said Prinsco and other manufacturers of plastic tile are anticipating this technology, and are able to produce large-diameter, plastic line that can be placed at greater depths.
The underground lines can be regulated by valves. The flows could rise and fall along with the open ditch they would parallel, according to Lippert.
Computer and laser technology allows the lines to be installed at precise grades to control the speed of flow in the lines. A smooth, enclosed line has a greater water carrying capacity for a given diameter than an open system, he noted.
Unlike an open ditch, the underground line would also not carry erosion to nearby rivers.
Since the lines could be installed during the winter, there would be no crop losses.
The speed and efficiency of the machine would allow lines - even those built with more expensive plastics - to be installed at a lower cost as compared to excavation systems now employed, Lippert told the board.
He said he is arranging financing for a Talon unit that would allow him to install 250 miles of line per year. He needs to show that there will be the work to keep it busy in the region. He is planning to meet with neighboring county boards to determine interest in it.

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