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"I Built the Best" Winner''s Circle

February 14, 2009
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

For the "gearheads” on the Farm Journal staff, none of the magazine's ongoing projects is more enjoyable than our "I Built the Best” contest. That's when we get to see firsthand the creativity that farmers are famous for.

The 2008 contest included a double win for Greg Ruestman of Wenona, Ill. For the second straight year, Ruestman won the technology category, this time with his step-saving, safety-enhancing automated tractor and PTO control box. He won the sprayer category with a speedy, versatile ATV-mounted rig. John Thomas of Grand Ridge, Ill., won the planter category with an effective, economical twin-row corn planter.

You can read about Ruestman and Thomas in the following pages. In a future issue, we'll tell you about the winner of the shop category—a roomy, practical facility built by Pete and Julie Mertz of Ottosen, Iowa.

Each "I Built the Best” winner receives $500. See page 28 for details on the 2009 contest.

Technology Category

Climbing in and out of tractor cabs and racing around to turn augers on and off is not only tiring but it also can be dangerous, especially if there's ice and snow on the ground. An automated control box built by Greg

Ruestman of Wenona, Ill., eliminates that risk—and earns him $500 as the technology category winner.

Standing in one spot, Ruestman can start and stop the tractor that powers his grain auger, engage the PTO and adjust the auger speed. The control box is easily transportable from one bin site to the next.

Although it sounds complicated, Ruestman says the technology is fairly simple. "It uses common switches and relays to simulate what the controls in the tractor cab do,” he says.

In essence, the control required wiring an extra set of switches in parallel with those in the tractor cab. Ruestman starts the tractor using a generic automobile ignition switch in the control box.

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