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Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

SDSU Quarter Scale Team Named Overall Champion at 2018 International Competition!

2018 International Quarter Scale Overall Champions - Team Picture
2018 International Quarter Scale Student Design Competition Overall Champions Team

Photo: SDSU Quarter-Scale Tractor Team named Overall Champions at the 2018 International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition in Peoria, IL. Team members and advisors include, from left to right: Brian Prchal, Jeff VanderSchaaf (advisor), Mike Hansen, Ty Grone, JJ Dooyema, Douglas Prairie (advisor), T.J. Harder, Mitchell Sandey, Tate Ketelhut, Seth Haigh, Nathan Wright, Alex Koepke, Luke Schemm, Tia Muller, Joe DeBoer, Ryan VanTassel, Brady Buck.

Not pictured: Advisors Aaron Franzen, Joseph Darrington; Members Lucas Derdall, Caleb Dinse, Miranda LeBrun

Cutting-edge science to feed and fuel the future

The Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering focuses on preparing students to improve the world’s food chain and available natural resources.

Our department gives students and scientists the resources necessary to generate innovative ideas and build rewarding careers through teaching, research, and Extension efforts. The Department offers degrees in Ag & Biosystems Engineering (ABE), which prepares students to work with the development and design of systems that impact food sources, and in Ag Systems Technology (AST), which teaches students the practical application of new innovations in the agricultural market. We have also partnered with the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics to jointly offer the first in the nation Precision Agriculture (PRAG) major.

Cutting-edge research in our department spans topics that range from food safety and biodiesel fuel to biofilters and manure odor reduction. Accurate and up-to-date information for the public and industry is provided through our Extension outreach and includes information about irrigation, farm safety, and outdoor air quality, as well as rural handicap-accessible issues and other key topics in the realm of agriculture and biosystems.



Hydraulic Pump Parasitic Losses - Joshua Daum, Tyler Propst and AGCO

AGCO is a global agricultural equipment company with a wide range of products. Notable brand lines include Challenger, Ag-Chem, Massey Ferguson and Fendt. They are also well known for the TerraGator granular spreaders and RoGator self-propelled sprayers. The project sponsored by AGCO for SDSU involves determining energy losses that occur when converting mechanical (engine) energy into fluid (hydraulic) energy. Conversion efficiency is a common concern in agricultural equipment design as a large range of implements can be powered from the vehicle’s hydraulic system. The focus of our research will be studying the effect hydraulic pumps play in contributing to parasitic energy losses. Included in this research will be the design of a test stand capable of testing common pumps utilized by AGCO. These pumps will be tested under varying conditions, such as temperature and pump speed (RPM), to showcase pump performance. The input mechanical torque will be correlated to output fluid torque using a shaft torque meter and calculations utilizing output flow and pressure. AGCO will use the findings of our research to accurately select pumps for the various equipment they design. The test stand developed within this project will provide insight on properly testing hydraulic pumps for parasitic energy losses and will likely lead to a more advanced test stand capable of testing a wider variation of pumps.

Quarter Scale Tractor Drivetrain - Joseph DeBoer, Timothy Harder, Ryan VanTassel and Daniel Humburg
The Quarter Scale Tractor Design Team of South Dakota State University is a student led organization that designs, builds, and competes in an international competition against teams across the United States, Canada, and Israel. The team has developed the need of a more complex drivetrain in search of increasing tractive effort as well as power to ground during performance events. To achieve such a feat, the Drivetrain Capstone Project was assembled to deliver a more robust, efficient drivetrain to compete with the rising level of difficulty found in the competition. The overall scope of the design is derived from that of the previous year’s tractor, with the implementation of a two speed powershift as well as integrating a dry clutch into a belt reduction system. The reduction-clutch assembly offers the ability to reduce engine speed, as well as provide a main power disconnect for the entire tractor in one process, whereas two separate sub-systems were used in the previous design. This limits the overall weight of the system, shortens the drivetrain length, and eliminates the need for multiple shielded areas in the overall tractor design. The ultimate goal of the Quarter Scale Tractor Drivetrain Project is to create a drivetrain that features four forward gears that can be dynamically shifted between two additional gear ratios for on the fly gear reduction. This is achieved by implementing a dry-activated planetary gear set prior to the transmission. The design of this two-speed planetary power shift transmission is derived from a Farmall Torque Amplifier first developed in the early 1950’s. This allows for variable speed in each range supplied by the transmission, while in turn maximizing tractive effort without having to stop to shift between gears or activate the disconnect clutch, losing tractor power and speed.
Jack Wrap-It - Macey Zeinstra, Justin Spies, and Konechne Ranch, LLC
The Jack Wrap It project was brought to the Agricultural Engineering Department in hopes of designing a safe, edible net wrap material for livestock animals that will be able to withstand long term storage and practices associated with forage use. Development of an edible net wrap material has been proposed due to the common practice of grinding bales to feed cattle without removing the net wrap. Ground hay with plastic can build up in the early digestive tract of cattle (rumen, reticulum, and omasum) and can create severe health impacts to the animal that can result in an early death. The sponsor and design team will test digestible natural fiber materials including: hemp, sisal, crop residue, carinata, among others once identified. The materials will be researched and tested in multiple ways through mechanical and accelerated aging techniques. The following characteristics will be assessed by: availability, cost, nutrition value, single strand tensile strength, composite tensile strength, long term storability, accelerated aging, and feasibility to incorporate into existing systems. All materials will be assessed based on their performance compared to existing petroleum based net wrap products. The Jack Wrap It team hopes to create a fully functional edible net wrap that can improve the health of livestock while maintaining fast forage production, acceptable storability, and labor savings during feeding for cattle producers.

Hair pinning is a major factor in the germination of seed within no-till farming practices. The Row Cleaner project’s goals were to reduce the amount of hair pinning while reducing the weight of each seeder’s row-unit attachments. The design had a maximum weight goal of 42 lbs. which is 75% less than the current industry benchmark. Design criteria was to have a durable design with no bearings running in the soil, be lighter in weight, and allow for ease of adjustment. Adjustable in this context means the system will work on 7.5 in row-spacing while also working in 10 and 15-inch row spacing configuration. Testing was conducted in wheat stubble to verify functionality of prototypes and multiple design concepts. The weight limit goal of 42 lbs. was achieved for most of our prototype concepts. The prototypes allowed us to collect data and determine functional concepts and which designs could use improvement.

The most recent design is still being tested and is proving to be a very durable. The design is a success in that it has no bearings running in the soil and the row cleaner is able to quickly adjust to different row spacing’s. The data we have collected will be sent to our sponsor and will determine what conceptual design they wish to pursue.

NRCS Dam Project - Seth Haigh, Nick Klingenberg, Miranda LeBrun and NRCS

The Brookings NRCS office has undertaken a project to redesign and repair a previously built dam that is currently not functioning properly. The primary issue with the dam is the principal spillway is not allowing water to flow from the dam, either due to blockage or collapse of the primary spillway pipe. As a result of this issue, the pool area stored behind the dam has grown tremendously. On several occasions the dam has had to be released through the emergency spillway. This must be repaired because the emergency spillway is earthen, and not designed to withstand repeated heavy flows. The dam was built in 1978 and over its life has accumulated sediment which has reduced the dam's water holding capacity, and has likely played a key role in the failure of the primary spillway. If the dam does fail, it could potentially damage South Dakota Highway 11, as well as erode cropland downstream from the embankment. This project will ultimately produce a functional design of a new primary and auxiliary spillway that will be proposed to the Union Creek Watershed District. This design will be compiled from information gathered from topographic surveys, soil surveys, and LIDAR data, all of which will be used to determine drainage area and site suitability for a new principal, and auxiliary spillway. Our goal for the fall semester is to have the primary and auxiliary spillways properly sized and have flow calculations done, so that the spillways can be placed in optimal positions on the landscape and drawings can be created in the spring.

NRCS Feedlot - Abby Repenning, Lucas Derdall, and NRCS
The Natural Resource Conservation Survey, NRCS, was contacted by a cattle producer interested in expanding his current feedlot operation. The producer hopes to build a 500 head deep pit barn along with a 1000 head open lot on his current grounds. The producer’s current land consists of farm ground around a homestead and a small creek that runs through the property. Mapping was conducted prior to the start of the project. Placement of the operation, cost estimates, and design features were all components of the project. Placement of the operation depends on the geography of the land and optimal waste containment. Optimal waste containment is an issue for this producer as there is a small creek that runs through his land, runoff from the feedlot needs to be contained so it does not contaminate the creek, a major concern of the producer and developers. The containment pit design needs to be large enough to prevent contamination of the creek and other water sources. The construction cost of the project depends on what the farmer wants to pay and what can be cost shared. The producer will review a budget that provides minimal costs along with optional add-on costs. Lastly, the design of the project will rely on what the farmer wants and the regulations for feedlots. This project will use excel to form a budget and AutoCad for design work. The construction of this feedlot will take place in the summer of 2018 once the producer agrees upon the location, cost, and design of the proposed feedlot
Netwrap Densification Phase II - Brady Buck, Alex Koepke, Caleb Lang, Mitchell Sandey and POET, LLC

POET LLC is the leading producer of corn based ethanol in the United States and has recently launched a state of the art facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa named Project LIBERTY. This facility produces cellulosic ethanol using corn stover from both round and large square cornstalk bales. The first step in the process is to remove the netwrap or twine from the bale which produces a continuous waste stream of netwrap and plastic twine. Currently POET runs the twine and netwrap though a large grinder that processes the material into fine pieces so it can be fed into a boiler to produce energy for the plant. Last year a senior design team from SDSU successfully produced a prototype extruder that densifies one bale’s worth of netwrap every minute. The extruder produces a densified, log-shaped product with a hardened outer shell. This year’s team is tasked with developing a system that can continuously feed the extruder with both netwrap and twine with varying amounts of biomaterial under a multitude of conditions. The biomass, netwrap and twine can be introduced into the extruder under varying levels of moisture content; varying rate of feed; varying densities of materials; and varying mixture percentages of biomass, netwrap, and twine. This system must be able to stockpile material and consistently meter the flow of netwrap, twine, and biomass into the extrusion cylinder to keep the machine running smoothly and reliably. The final goal of this project is to identify a form of processing that can size the extruded material into a shape suitable for blowing through the plant’s eight-inch pneumatic conveyance lines directly to their boiler.

Raven Utility Turf Steering Kit - Brett Reimer, Duane Mutziger and Raven
Raven provides guidance and steering systems for the agriculture market. As a senior design group we have taken the challenge to tap into the lawn and turf market with a precise guidance and steering system using a hydraulic flow control valve. This system will be tailored to the small utility vehicle market, which means there will be low hydraulic flow rates, a price sensitive market, and limited space for packaging. Utilizing the existing hydraulics on the utility vehicles, the bulk of the add-on auto-steer components can be concealed within the vehicle. By adding hydraulic flow control, Raven can offer a more accurate automated guidance system that is versatile to fit numerous platforms. We developed our hydraulic valve for a Kubota UTV and will be handing off a design that is ready for customer testing to Raven. To achieve optimal performance we tested multiple types of valves to compare their performance versus the current Mechanical Drive Unit or MDU. Performance evaluation was based on line acquisition and GPS heading error. Line acquisition is how well the valve can keep the vehicle on the target line and heading error is how far off the vehicle is relative to the desired heading. Installing the valves and additional equipment was the biggest challenge for the project because of how compact UTV vehicles are. Locating a spot to mount the valve was an issue because we did not want it to interfere with normal operation while also protecting it from damage. We worked closely with the Raven engineering team as they provided us technical guidance and the necessary hardware and software to optimize performance of their system within this new application.
SDSU Seed Cleaner - Les Jelsma, Kyle Kramer, and SDSU Seed Lab

Seed production is a major component of agriculture. Harvested seed will likely contain some amount of foreign contaminates such as weed seeds, other crop seeds, and inert material like stems, leaves, and dirt that will need to be separated in order to provide high quality seed for future crop production or uniform raw material for industry. Corn, soybeans, wheat, rye, flower, and grass seeds are some of the seeds that are commonly cleaned. Separation is done based on differences in seed characteristics such as size, shape, density, surface texture, terminal velocity, color, electrical conductivity, and resilience. The SDSU plant science department currently has a large assortment of different hand sieves and a small scale air screen machine for processing seed samples submitted to its testing lab. An air screen machine separates on the basis of seed size, shape, and density by running seeds across one or more sieves and through a stream of air. Companies offer a wide range of machine sizes ranging from large multi-sieve configurations to small single sieve machines. Present day small scale machines lack certain features found on larger machines limiting their performance.  Given that hand sieves are already available, a small scale machine that utilizes hand sieves with the performance of an industrial sized machine, would be beneficial for the SDSU seed cleaning lab. This project is sponsored by Brent Turnipseed who is a professor and manager for the SDSU Seed Testing Lab as well as the Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator for the SDSU Plant Science department.

Bin Sweep Prototype - Logan Knoshal, Joshua Fast and Sioux Steel

Sioux Steel is a well-respected name in the commodity storage and handling market. They manufacture their products from their Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant and distribute all across the United States. The company is working with an independent engineering firm, BRent, in designing a safer and efficient grain sweep concept. Many competing companies claim to be autonomous, but after running, these companies almost always require another manual labor pass to clean the bins fully. This bin sweep concept would theoretically eliminate the need for extra labor cleaning as well as save time, increase personal safety, and potentially decrease energy consumption. The design acts on the premise that gravity is the best use of energy and to maximize it to its fullest potential, the sweep will utilize angle of repose of the grain to its advantage. Our primary task is to complete theoretical calculations and find out the acting forces on essential parts of the sweep such as loads on the sweep, required torque to drive the sweep, and possibly the sizing of the gearbox. We then will install the prototype sweep in an eighteen feet diameter bin to see how the sweep performs. A major proof of theory to the testing of the sweep includes the sweep being able to bring the grain to the center sump to be unloaded at a rate that is comparable or more effective than a traditional grain sweep. Once the initial testing phase is completed we will then evaluate the validity of the current sweep and see what changes can be made to improve quality and effectiveness of the sweep.

Conveyair Pneumatic Valve - Seth Boerboom, Jared Neuharth, and Thor Manufacturing LTD.

Thor Manufacturing Ltd. is building a pneumatic transfer system product line using its existing positive displacement air pump and air lock products. Pneumatic diverter valves are required and will carry granular product such as grain, within an automated air stream. The typical process moves dried grain from a grain dryer to a storage bin. The grain from the dryer is introduced into the air stream via an air lock and is pushed through a piping network into a storage bin, sometimes a few hundred feet away. The pneumatic diverter valve would need to send product to another bin in the series or divert the grain up to the top of the bin being filled. The valve needs to be designed in such a way that it can be manually operated or automatically controlled from a central control panel. The blower can generate up to 15 PSI of air pressure and is constructed so it will not leak air or small grains. (E.g. canola). Typical pipe sizes will be 5” or 6” in diameter, but in the future the valve may be used within industrial applications where a 4” diameter variation would be required. Typically, pneumatic valves can be quite expensive, so we are targeting a production cost of $150 to $300 plus the components required for valve automation. The two-way valve simplifies the piping setup versus more common multi-way valve designs and reduces the amount of pipe needed for a system. Also having the option to manually or automatically control the valve gives the owner options based on the needs of their system.