Stilt.Pro Equipment Rolls Out Rice Hull Blower

From the Nursery & Landscape Insider 

Stilt.Pro Equipment Rolls Out Rice Hull Blower

With the ever-increasing cost of chemicals and ever-decreasing supply of labor to hand weed any preemergence escapes, a lot of growers are looking for ways to stretch weed control in container operations. Well, last summer I saw an interesting prototype system to apply rice hulls to containers, developed by Stilt.Pro. My first thought was that this is perfect for situations whereby just potted plants have that two-week window before preemergence herbicides can be applied. Of course, any mulch also reduces weed pressure by depriving the weed seed of an environment conducive to germination and growth.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I learned that the Rice Hull Blower had been commercially released (their video is way better than mine). I was pretty excited to see this, as it’s the very first in-field blower-style applicator (that I’m aware of). It’s a simple design, made to last, and was designed with a heavy dose of grower-input. A two-man crew can apply the product at a rate less than 8 cents per pot (all-in cost). That’s pretty darn good in my humble opinion. Well done, Stilt.Pro!

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What does the warranty look like?

3 Year, Unlimited Hours Warranty – INCLUDED

What does it include?

Includes: Problem identification, remote trouble shooting of issue, support and instruction for proper repair, and providing replacement of failed parts.

What is excluded?

Excludes – Misuse of equipment (including using non horticultural potting mixes with high sand and field soil content) or improper care, such as leaving fertilizer in machine for an extended period of time.  Wear parts (chain, slats, wear plates or surfaces).  External physical damage inflicted on the machine.  Labor repair costs.

We will walk you through the repair process and make sure you're happy.

What about Service Parts?

Yes, we keep inventory of most all parts. Most all of the components are either US Sourced or a common off the shelf component. We are having some supply chain issues on components, but we are working through the best way to manage that.

What about Repair?

All of our machines are designed right here in the US.  We design these machines to be easily repairable by an inexperienced worker.  Should a problem arise, you won’t need to weld or fabricate a new part.  The entire machine is bolted together and you can simply bolt in a replacement part.

The hopper capacity seems low

We have heard that concern, I get it, you won’t be able to load a machine up and let a person pot plants for a day.

Some perspective – The rear load machine holds about 3/4 – 1 cubic yard which is up to about 200 gallons of material. That gives you about 15 minutes of runtime without stopping.

The reason for the smaller equipment size is to primarily keep the price and complexity down.

Increasing the machine size has a few unwelcome side effects:

-Increase horsepower requirements which means increased power – now you have to have dedicated power for the machine.

-Increasing the hopper size also increases the physical size of the machine which increases the overall cost and reduces portability

You may have not made a purchase on a potting machine in the past because of the overall cost.

We're being cautious around those concerns and trying to work within your business goals.

Is this production rate slow?

From time to time, we hear that our production rates appear slow. Look at it this way though. You have 5 or 10 workers running a high-speed line. SOMETHING GOES WRONG, you now have all these people standing around and/or you need to find a different job for them.

What's your real per man hour potting rate?

If you have a machine problem with a high-speed line you’re completely shut down.  With a cell-based design, you have a small part of the potting operation down.  Your efficiency is similar whether you have 1 or 4 people operating STILT.PRO machines.

Your business is complex, don't make it worse.

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