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Published May 03, 2010, 12:00 AM

Rock picker


Field rocks are the "crop" for Mel Aho's heavy-duty, self-propelled rock picker. “That’s what it harvests,” he says. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

  • Field rocks are the "crop" for Mel Aho's heavy-duty, self-propelled rock picker. “That’s what it harvests,” he says. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • From left, Perry Gilmour, Merf Aho, and Mel Aho, have been involved in developing of a self-propelled mechanical rock picker. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Mel Aho, a native of Sebeka, Minn., area, who lives near Vancouver, Wash., led development of a self-propelled rock picker that can dig field rock at about 3 mph and dump 1 yard of field rock in about a minute. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Rocks and debris tumble through a reel that spins counter-clockwise, and at an angle with a grading effect, sending dirt and to the ground and mostly clean rock into a conveyor. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • A conveyor throws rocks into the lift bin at a rate of about 1 yard of rock per minute on this field, near Sebeka, Minn. It picks at a rate of better a yard per minute. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • A dump box that holds up to 10 yards of rock, accumulated in less than eight minutes, comes tumbling from the hydraulically powered bin that's been designed to lift high enough to spill into a full-sized ten-wheel dump truck. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • A rock as big as a volleyball stands, ready to be picked up by the RP 1000, a self-propelled rock picker prototype, to be demonstrated April 30 and May 1 near Sebeka, Minn. It picks a rock a 100-pound rock easily. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • A dump truck piles up field stones at a rate of about 10 yards every 8 minutes on this field, clearing about 35 acres in a day. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)