Equipment Update: Solectrac Donation, Acquisitions by Valley Irrigation and Sukup, and Honoring Industry Legends

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Solectrac has delivered its first tractor to an ag and environmental school in Hawaii. (DTN photo courtesy of Solectrac Inc.)

In this Equipment Roundup, Solectrac Inc. has donated its first Compact Electric Tractor to help educate students, Valley Irrigation has acquired PivoTrac, and Sukup doubles its capacity through an acquisition. The Love's Family of Companies, Cargill and their affiliates have entered a joint venture to produce and market renewable diesel. Also, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers Hall of Fame remembers two Hall of Famers who have recently died.



Solectrac Inc. has donated its first Compact Electric Tractor (CET) production unit to the Kokua Hawaii Foundation. The organization supports environmental education in schools and communities.

The CET will be used on the seven-acre Kokua Learning Farm on Oahu. The farm will be a gathering place for students to learn about food production.

The 30-horsepower diesel-equivalent CET is a versatile, four-wheel-drive utility vehicle for vineyards, small farms, greenhouses, golf courses and municipalities. Its 22-kilowatt-hour battery pack offers up to six hours of runtime. The CET accepts all Category 1, 540 PTO implements, including hydraulics on its rear hitch.

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Valley Irrigation has acquired PivoTrac, an ag-tech company based in the Texas Panhandle. PivoTrac offers remote monitoring products for monitoring center pivot irrigation machines.

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Sukup Manufacturing Co. announced it acquired assets of Global Fabrication Inc., a fabrication facility in Hampton, Iowa. The purchase allows Sukup to double its capacity for catwalks, towers and other structural products.

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The Love's Family of Companies, Cargill and their affiliates have entered a 50-50 joint venture to produce and market renewable diesel. The joint venture is called Heartwell Renewables and will result in the construction of a new production plant in Hastings, Nebraska. The plant will be able to produce up to 80 million gallons annually of renewable diesel.

Cargill will provide feedstock in the form of tallow. Heartwell Renewables will be the only entity of its kind to both produce and market renewable diesel all the way to the retail pump.

The production process makes renewable diesel chemically identical to petroleum diesel with significant improvements in environmental performance. Renewable diesel also has a faster combustion speed, which brings more power to an engine and has been shown to lower maintenance.

Heartwell operations are planned to start in the spring of 2023.



As it looks to nominate new members to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers Hall of Fame, the industry organization remembers two Hall of Famers, who have recently died.

-- Cyril Keller, a member of the 1999 induction class to what was then known as the Construction Equipment Hall of Fame (now AEM Hall of Fame) passed away Oct. 28, 2020, in his hometown of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Keller was inducted, along with his younger brother Louis (1923-2010), for his development of the first skid steer loader.

The Keller brothers, originally trained as blacksmiths, operated their own machine shop in Rothsay, Minnesota, when a farmer friend needed a machine capable of cleaning out his turkey barns.

Their first designed three-wheel loader evolved into a four-wheel loader. By 1960, after selling the manufacturing rights to Melroe Manufacturing, the first loader would go on sale under the name "Bobcat."

-- Helmut Claas, a member of the 2013 induction class of the AEM Hall of Fame passed away Jan. 5, 2021. Claas was inducted for his leadership and engineering skills, co-designing Claas' Dominator (1971) series combine harvesters, Jaguar (1973) series forage harvesters and Xerion (1978) tractors.

The son of company founder August Claas, Helmut began work as a machine fitter apprentice in the 1930s, going on to learn metalworking, metal casting and then studied agriculture in Paris. Claas became managing director of CLAAS in 1962.

Claas has been recognized as a Knight of the French Legion of Honor for his efforts toward Franco-German cooperation, the Diesel Medal from the German Institute of Inventors, the Medal of Merit from the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, and the Order of Merit from the French Minister of Agriculture.

Dan Miller can be reached at

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