SHEDD – For more than 150 years windmills have pulled water outof the ground for use on farms and ranches from coast to coast.
But Oak Park Farms owner Don Coon may be the first person inNorth America to use a windmill to do the opposite: to get rid ofwater that normally floods his property.
Wednesday afternoon, Coon explained how the system, which hasbeen operating since December, has removed standing water fromabout 14 acres of a 66-acre field west of Shedd. It was the firststop on the annual South Valley field crops and conservation toursponsored by the OSU Extension Service and the Linn Soil and WaterConservation District.
“It has worked great,” Coon told nearly 75 farmers and cropspecialists. “We had it installed by late December and this fieldwas a lot wetter than it is now. at times, we can’t even use athree-wheeler to fertilize this area because it’s so wet.”
The system is an updated version of the historic 702 Aeromotorwindmills that dotted the countryside for decades. It features a16-foot-diameter fan – although fans up to 20 feet in diameter areavailable. the tower is 53 feet tall.
The system requires a wind of just 5.5 miles per hour to getstarted. once operating, it can continue with a wind as low as 3.4mph.
“When the wind is 12 to 18 miles per hour, it’s perfect,” Coonsaid. “When the wind hits 23 miles per hour, the fan tail turnsinto the wind and the fan actually slows down to protectitself.”
The fan is connected to a lifting mechanism that pulls water outof a concrete cistern about 8 feet deep. Tiling – underground drainpipes – moves water from the field to the cistern, Coon said. Thewindmill pumps the water into a wooden weir, which then flows intoa drainage ditch that ends up at the nearby Calapooia River.
Depending on wind speed, the system can remove from 50 to morethan 500 gallons of water per minute.
“Our goal is to keep removing water steadily,” Coon said.
Coon said it would cost about $15,000 to $20,000 to run a powerline to operate an electric pump and there would be a monthly powerbill.
“I also looked at solar power and that’s when we came up withthe wind power idea,” he said.
Tom Conlon, who owns Iron Man Windmill Company in Eugene, saidthe system costs about $20,000 and Coon expects a payback within 10years.
Conlon said he has been involved in the windmill business sincethe 1970s and has installed numerous units in China. there,windmills are used to irrigate crops and fill reservoirs.Information gleaned over many years there has been used to greatlyincrease efficiency and decrease maintenance.
This is the first windmill Conlon is aware of that is removingwater from soggy land, rather than extracting it forirrigation.