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RTL Equipment Sells First DEVELON Excavator in Iowa

Wed August 30, 2023 - Midwest Edition #18
Ryan Johnson – SPECIAL TO CEG

In July, Michael and Sean Harmon purchased a brand-new DEVELON DX225LC-7 excavator — the first sold in Iowa —from Devin Bonnstetter of RTL Equipment in Grimes, Iowa.
(DEVELON photo)
In July, Michael and Sean Harmon purchased a brand-new DEVELON DX225LC-7 excavator — the first sold in Iowa —from Devin Bonnstetter of RTL Equipment in Grimes, Iowa. (DEVELON photo)
In July, Michael and Sean Harmon purchased a brand-new DEVELON DX225LC-7 excavator — the first sold in Iowa —from Devin Bonnstetter of RTL Equipment in Grimes, Iowa.
(DEVELON photo) Michael Harmon (L) and Devin Bonnstetter look over the new machine.
(DEVELON photo) One of the first projects assigned to the new excavator was replacing drain tile at Harmon Ag’s field near Slater, Iowa.
(DEVELON photo) DEVELON DX225LC-7 excavator
(DEVELON photo) Michael Harmon
(DEVELON photo)

As the Iowa fields sway with shoulder-high corn, an unconventional sight takes center stage — an orange DEVELON excavator. Yet within the realm of Harmon Ag, this machinery embodies the commitment of brothers Michael and Sean Harmon, working tirelessly day by day.

Michael Harmon (L) and Devin Bonnstetter

In July, Michael skillfully maneuvered a brand-new DEVELON DX225LC-7 excavator — the first sold in Iowa — to the edge of a field for a drain tile project. Michael and Sean purchased the machine from Devin Bonnstetter of RTL Equipment in Grimes, Iowa. For the brothers, it was their first DEVELON purchase, setting the stage for new possibilities for the traditional agriculture operation.

"A friend of ours in western Iowa had a [Doosan] excavator, and he told us about the brand," said Michael. "We started looking into it. Sean called RTL and spoke to Devin about a new excavator. Eventually, we went to the dealership in Grimes to look at it because we were searching for a mid-size excavator. Knowing that we had a friend who obviously likes his machine very much helped our decision."

It's important to note that the new DEVELON brand was announced earlier this year, replacing the longtime Doosan brand of heavy construction equipment.

"Devin was awesome to work with," Michael said. "He was there every step of the way if we had any questions. I can only say good things about him. We know Devin and RTL Equipment are going to stand behind the machine if there's an issue."

Replacing Decades-Old Drain Tile

One of the first projects assigned to the new excavator was replacing drain tile at Harmon Ag's field near Slater, Iowa. The drain tile helps with water flow in the fields. Michael explained that a lot of the old tile system was from way back in the 1950s, so it was time for an update. Recently, Michael worked on a 10-in. main tile from a nearby field down to a creek.

"That will branch off in two or three directions, and then we can tile the entire east end of that field; pattern tiling it so it drains into that one 10-inch main that goes to the creek to address excessive moisture issues," he explained.

Using drainage tiles in fields is not a new idea, but according to Michael, in the last 15 to 20 years more growers have started to use a technique called "pattern tiling" for the whole field.

"You have a tile every 60 or 80 feet, all the way across the field, to drain the excess moisture," he said. "It makes a big difference when you can get into the field, and in a really wet year, the crops will do a lot better in a field that's tiled."

Bonnstetter helped Michael and Sean set up the excavator with an attachment combination to best suit their needs. Harmon Ag bought the DX225LC-7 with a 48-in. general purpose bucket; a 42-in. sand bucket; a thumb; and a quick coupler. Michael said they wanted the quick coupler for the ease of changing buckets. The thumb will come in handy when they eventually use the excavator to clean up farmsteads and remove dead trees.

Quieter Dig

When asked what he enjoys about the DEVELON excavator, the first thing Michael mentioned is how quiet the machine is from inside the cab.

"Sean and I agree: the top feature is how quiet the excavator is," he said. "It's very quiet, and that's nice if you're sitting in it all day. And the excavator's power has really surprised us. The buckets we bought are kind of large for that machine, and it handled them with no problems."

Michael also mentioned that the excavator's cab is comfortable, and the joystick controls are easy to use. He also appreciates the rearview camera that comes standard and the optional side view camera, which helps him see better when he's working.

Michael and Sean are pleased with the machine's fuel efficiency. Michael recently looked at a DEVELON Fleet Management telematics report about fuel use and said he was pleasantly surprised to see that the excavator used very little fuel for the hours it had been operating.

Farming for More Than 150 Years

The Harmon family has been farming in central Iowa for more than 150 years. Michael and Sean's family settled in the Ankeny, Iowa, area back in the late 1860s. In 1971, the Harmon farm got a special honor — it was officially recognized as a Century Farm because it had been around for 100 years. And more recently, the farm received the designation as a Heritage Farm, which means it's been in operation for 150 years.

Michael Harmon

Michael and Sean purchased the farm from their father in 2017. Then, in 2019, they started Harmon Ag LLC, and built a large shop on the property near Alleman. The company manages more than 6,000 acres across Iowa, growing different varieties of corn and soybeans. They also have an ongoing job working with DeKalb seed company, taking care of seed corn.

"Starting at the end of every August, we harvest between 5,000 and 8,000 acres of seed corn," Michael said. "During the summer, we spray seed corn for the same company, covering 25,000-plus acres."

The latest venture for Harmon Ag involves cultivating non-GMO, food-grade soybeans. Michael noted that this trend is gaining more popularity among individuals who adhere to a vegan diet that consists of plant-based meats. Harmon Ag has shipped a portion of these non-GMO soybeans to an organic, all-natural fish farm in Europe for use as fish food.

One clear key to the family's success is being open to trying new things, including a new brand of construction equipment. Michael anticipates that the company's new DEVELON excavator won't run out of work to do anytime soon.

The DX225LC-7

The DX225LC-7 is part of the -7 Series crawler excavator lineup from DEVELON. The excavator is powered by a 162-hp diesel engine and comes with the exclusive D-ECOPOWER system to improve the machine's fuel efficiency. A 5-ton lifting eye coupled with a durable upper structure frame makes this excavator an ideal machine for lifting and moving objects on job sites. The fine swing function minimizes the shaking of a lifted object, giving operators more control and accuracy.

(This story is printed with the permission of DEVELON.)

This story also appears on Agricultural Equipment Guide.

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