The Landus Rural Innovation Center in Ralston recently hosted a demonstration of a TerraClear rock picker. DOUGLAS BURNS | JEFFERSON HERALD

Landus Innovation Center

Rock pickers go futuristic

By DOUGLAS BURNS d.burns@carrollspaper.com

RALSTON — The new Landus Innovation Center in Ralston showcased one of its partners’ emerging technologies in a recent demonstration to area farmers.

TerraClear, a Bellevue, Wash., startup, brought its state-of-the-art rock picker to Landus.

The rock picker, which is compatible with a compact track loader or skid steer loader, can selectively pick up rocks 6 inches to 2 feet in size — and snag up 400 rocks per hour. It’s nimble and speedy.

Soon, the device will be compatible with tractors, said Heidi Lindsley, marketing director for TerraClear.

The company is also developing something of a “rock Rumba” — a robotic device, that, like the unrelated but well-known home vacuum cleaner, combs a field unmanned, scouting and removing rocks.

“That’s the future, that’s where we’re headed,” Lindsley said.

Local farmers noted that they tend to pick rocks year round but will send out more aggressive crews in the spring.

TerraClear’s business model is two fold: it offers a rock-picking service and is looking for local partners to handle the clients, and it sells the rock pickers for use by owner-operators themselves.

The company has drone technology that enables mapping for rocks as well.

“It’s going to leave a bread crumb so you know where you have been,” Lindsley said.

The aim of the Landus rural Iowa center is to cultivate strategic partnerships and collaboration between farmer-owners and global innovation leaders to drive a more-sustainable and profitable future of farming.

“The goal is first and foremost without a doubt to help our farmers get a runway to the future, a line of sight to where things are going maybe five, seven years from now,” said Matt Carstens, Landus president and CEO.

Located at Landus in Ralston, the Innovation Center features a variety of emerging technologies and what the cooperative calls “moonshot ideas” that will propel ag forward.

“The agriculture value stream is upside down today. As more and more industries look to us to solve the latest problems of sustainability, consumer desires, rural vitality and food security, it’s critical that we enable our farmers to actually drive innovation and co-author the solutions of tomorrow,” Carstens said. “We must start putting farmers at the center of ag innovation and better connecting with outside industries and end users if we want to arrive at a more-sustainable and profitable future of farming. This is a non-negotiable stance by our farmer-owners, and Landus is rising to these challenges.”

The Ralston location that once served as a cubicle-filled office space for the former West Central Cooperative has been revitalized to accommodate an ongoing rotation of strategic partners, emerging tech show spaces and modern collaboration.

TerraClear joins several other innovators in the center, including Sentera, Sukup Manufacturing, Google, Enogen, Practical Farmers of Iowa and Rantizo Elevating Precision Ag.

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