General Irrigation and Dewatering of Oakes, North Dakota, designs and installs a wide variety of deep-well, submersible, and towable pumps, including the versatile Dyna Flo pump. One of the newest additions to its lineup is a completely redesigned floating pontoon pump. General Irrigation can build models to accommodate any model of pump or application. In this interview, General Irrigation President Dana Rosendahl tells Irrigation Leader about the design and capabilities of the new floating pump.
Irrigation Leader: Please tell about your background and your company.
Dana Rosendahl: I grew up on a dairy farm, and as I was growing up, I learned how to weld by fixing and building equipment on the farm. That created an interest in building and manufacturing. I did a couple of years of vocational-technical training for welding when I was in high school, and I have some manufacturing experience in welding, forming metal, and assembly lines. That’s one of the things that has aided us in manufacturing these pumps. I started working at General Irrigation in 1982 and have been here ever since. We never do the same thing twice: We’re always working for somebody different, doing something different, and honing our skills. It’s always fun, and as long as it is, I’m going to keep on doing it.
Irrigation Leader: How many employees do you have?
Dana Rosendahl: When I bought the company, there were 3 or 4 employees, depending on the season; today there are 10–13. We’ve expanded the company; in the beginning, we primarily dealt with irrigation. A lot of other irrigation companies handle center-pivot systems only. We handle center pivots, but we also handle towlines, wheel lines, traveling guns, solid set, and other things. We’ve expanded into sewer and water as well: We’re a licensed sewer-water contractor in North and South Dakota. We started a dewatering division and do subsurface dewatering for contractors.
In addition to General Irrigation, we developed another corporation, Dyna Flo, to build and market our Dyna Flo pumps. We first built a flood pump, then lift pumps for field drainage, and now a floating pump. In the past, we’d sold a couple of floating pumps that I was never really impressed with. They were clunky, badly balanced, and badly built. They didn’t meet my standards, so we came up with our own design. It’s really farmer friendly. The length can be tailored to the needs of the farmer, the location of the pump site, and the depth of the water. I constructed it so that instead of being one massive, long welded piece of equipment, we use two 20‑foot pieces of 12‑inch pipe that we flange together. On the business end, the wheels hydraulically swing up once it’s in the water, and all that stuff is welded. When I was in manufacturing, I learned that all these little components can be welded separately and bolted together at the end. That means that the welded portions of the pump can be made in a welding stall instead of taking up a whole shop like a 40‑foot piece of pipe. It also allows us to ship it in a package half the size of the package the old pump required. We could make longer pumps, although 40 feet is the longest we’ve done. To make it longer would require a bowstring or some other kind of structural support that would take away from the simplicity of the design.
Irrigation Leader: What kind of pump does the floating pump use, and what is its range?
Dana Rosendahl: What we manufacture is really a pontoon—we can take any brand of pump the customer is partial to and bolt it on. The volute case of the pump will list in the water far enough to self-prime. The kind of pump that is used will depend on the application. Some customers need 100 pounds of pressure at the pump; some only need 40. Some need a 150‑horsepower motor, some only need a 40‑horsepower motor. Those pumps weigh dramatically different amounts, too. Whatever pump is needed, our pontoon can accommodate it. We can change the pontoons out as well. Our standard pontoons are 16 inches thick and 4 feet by 6 feet in size. There are four of those on each of the floats on this pontoon. We also have 20‑inch and 24‑inch pontoons. A 20‑inch pontoon will support a 150‑horsepower motor; a 24‑inch pontoon can support more than one pump. When a customer comes asking for a pontoon, we go out and look at their pumps, learn about their needs, and then tailor it to their specifications.
Irrigation Leader: Are your pontoons air filled, or are they foam filled?
Dana Rosendahl: They’re foam filled and made of plastic. The manufacturer we buy them from also uses them in boat docks.
Irrigation Leader: What are some of the main applications you foresee your floating pumps being used for?
Dana Rosendahl: We’re aiming to be as versatile as we can, but the primary applications are probably going to be drawing irrigation water out of a canal, river, or stream and emptying slews and potholes in the middle of fields. For the latter, a farmer could back a pump out there and pump
the water through the existing center-pivot system or some other sort of watering equipment. You’d have to be able to do it in shallow water with low suction and a screen built in such a way that it wouldn’t suck air when the water gets shallow. We plan to install a device like the bottom feeder feature of our power takeoff pump that will allow us to draw water in shallow areas and still have a self-cleaning jetting screen underneath it. As long as it doesn’t protrude below the pontoons, it should pump until the pontoon reaches the mud. When that happens, you can hydraulically swing the pump up and drag it out. One of our goals is to be able to pump in less than 1 foot of water.
Irrigation Leader: Do you do custom designs for specific applications?
Dana Rosendahl: Yes, we do custom stuff all the time. Necessity is the mother of invention, and somebody always needs something. We’ve got a pretty broad client base, and I spend a good chunk of my time on the phone, brainstorming with farmers. They often call me, tell me what they’re doing, and ask, “What would you do?” We get a lot feedback from farmers.
Irrigation Leader: What should every irrigation district know about you and your company?
Dana Rosendahl: The company has been here for over 50 years, and we’ve drawn on the knowledge and experience of those who came before us. We always put the customer first. We always try to design things that are economical and efficient and last a long time. Few products we buy today—toasters, refrigerators, TVs, or washers and dryers— last as long as the ones that were made 25 or 30 years ago. That irritates me. I want people to get their money’s worth, and when I build something, I want it to last. I don’t want our customers to have to come back here in 10 years when their equipment breaks; I want them to be talking to my grandkids in 40 years.