In the midst of barns, fields and dairy cows, a shiny dredging machine looks a bit out of place. But such a machine, called the Mud Cat, is solving some California manure handling problems, thanks to Dennis Thomas.
The Riverdale, CA cattleman and construction contractor first saw one on the portable hydraulic dredging systems, marketed by the Mud Cat division of Mud Cat International in April and arranged to have one sent to California so he could watch it work.
Thomas watched the Mud Cat SP-810 in action, then talked to dairy farmers in the area. Soon his company, JND Thomas Company, Inc. opened a commercial dredging division.
San Joaquin Valley farmers traditionally use draglines or slurry trucks to empty lagoons. But manure ponds are often situated amid corrals, fields and roads, making it difficult for a dragline to get into the site and maneuver. And, because slurry trucks pump only the light material, silt and sediment settle at the bottom of the pond, eventually reducing its capacity.
The Mud Cat is designed especially to pump high percentage solids. It uses a hydraulically-driven, submersible pump mounted on the end of the boom directly behind the auger. This allows the machine to take full advantage of hydrostatic head and atmospheric pressure to deliver thickened sludge to the suction side to the pump.
The Mud Cat engine can be brought up to full speed exclusive of the main pump, eliminating the need to thin out the material during acceleration. Inlet and discharge are 6 in. in diameter. The 12 in. recessed impeller is made of fabricated steel for impact resistance.
By using different Mud Cat attachments, Thomas cleared a number of ponds in various conditions. Attachments include the weed cutter knives and sickle, hook knives for heavy sand, and paddle knives and a shroud for slurry.
He says one of the problems with draglines is that the material can’t be placed where farmers always want it. “A farmer can designate where he wants the material, and can pump it a mile or more away with a Mud Cat,” says Thomas.
Reprinted from Farm Industry News