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Published March 03, 2014, 09:51 AM

Centrol launches tile installation

The region’s biggest franchise in independent crop consulting is diversifying into field drainage tile installation.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — The region’s biggest franchise in independent crop consulting is diversifying into field drainage tile installation.

Centrol of Twin Valley, Minn., now describes itself as the region’s “only full-service” drain tile company. It is starting to do its tile drainage work through a new division called Centrol Drainage LLC, based in Casselton, N.D., with partner Dakota Drainage. The division has purchased land near Casselton and could complete construction on a shop as early as fall 2014, or spring 2015.

The new entity has bought its own new, state-of-the-art plow — a Bron 550 self-propelled tiling plow — and is equipped to install a 15-inch dual wall pipe, or plastic tile. The plows retail for more than $600,000.

Some 2,000 farm clients use Centrol’s consulting services. The company has 50 consultants covering more than 2 million acres, and custom soil sampling for other dealerships covering several hundred thousand additional acres.

Now, clients will use the company’s water management experts to plan sub-surface water drainage, including consulting services, tile design, soil analysis, surface drainage design and wetland consulting.

Specialized consultants

Dennis Berglund, Centrol general manager and CEO, says the division will be headed by three consultants — Devin Weber, installation and crew management with Dakota Drainage; Shane Foley, design and accounting; and Andrew Fraase, soil samples and Real-Time Kinematic work.

Fraase and Foley started working for Centrol Water Management in 2011, which became a drainage and tile division very quickly.

“The change in agriculture, the high water tables, the salt issues that arose over the past 25 years have focused drain tile and tiling in this area,” Fraase says.

Weber says there is a “huge demand for tiling” in the region, and the “big holdup” is wetlands determinations by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Centrol will use Greg Meyers, a consultant from Grand Forks, N.D., to streamline applications.

“That’s huge,” Weber says, noting that some people have waited two years or more and that Centrol is getting determinations completed this spring for installation this season.

Centrol still does work with other installers, but primarily grower-installers.

“We assist them in the field with design work,” Fraase says. “Most of the installation will be done internally through Centrol Drainage.”

Centrol links its tile work with soil sampling and uses RTK-based GPS for accuracy. Weber says the company has an unusual access to agronomists who are out in these fields every week. The company will begin each project by examining the soil, elevation data, potential outlets and wetland concerns.

Logical progression

Centrol was founded in 1979 as a part of Cenex and Control Data. Originally, it was a cooperative, owned by some local dealerships and farmers who used its service. The territory is in northwest Minnesota, to Bismarck and Westhope in North Dakota, south to Britton and Redfield in South Dakota, and to Park Rapids and Herman in Minnesota.

Centrol moved into the water management area in 2011 when many of the company’s farmer clients were buying their own pull-behind tile plows. Berglund says the need to get into their own tile installation came when some projects had come to a halt because of permitting delays, wetlands delineations and indecision over which installer to hire, or simply not having timely access to qualified labor.

Berglund says the company worked for more than three years with more than a dozen installers and two dozen farmers who were installing their own pipe. He says the company chose Dakota Drainage as its partner because of complementary strengths.

Hans Kandel, a North Dakota State University Extension agronomist, says a crop consulting company moving into tile design to tile installation is a “fairly logical progression,” but says he doesn’t know if any other company had made that connection.

For information on the Centrol Drainage, go to www.centroldrainage.com.

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