If there is one thing Don Hornung knows, it’s that there is always a better way of doing things.

His dad, Michael, lived by this – developing innovative products to help meet the needs of the time period. When farmers needed a tillage tool to bust the crust and clean off the weeds on fallow ground, he and his company, CrustBuster, developed it. When Don Hornung took over the company’s reins from his father, he kept the same mind-set.

The goal: to make farming efficient and profitable by offering cutting-edge technology.

Yet, despite the CrustBuster/Speed King name, the Ford County company is no longer busting the crust by selling tillage equipment. And, in fact, one of the company’s latest innovations is aimed instead at farmers who want to move the soil as little as possible.

CrustBuster launched its latest planting product, a 60-foot no-till central fill drill, last year. Don Hornung said the motivation behind the product was the continued effort to help farmers be more efficient.

“Machinery is getting bigger and farmers are wanting to cover more ground and faster,” Hornung said. “Farmers want to cover more ground, to do more work in a day’s time.”

Farm efficiency

Farming and the machinery and tools needed to feed a growing global population continue to evolve. And it’s obvious they aren’t even remotely the same as when Michael Hornung, born in 1907, was growing up.

They are bigger. And they are better.

“He was a young man in his late teens and 20s when mechanized horsepower really came to the farm,” Don Hornung said of his father. “My dad was the mechanic on the farm: He took care of the tractors and, during the 1930s, he did a lot of mechanical work for other farmers.”

CrustBuster, said Don Hornung, continues to adapt to the ever-changing farm industry.

Due to the trend of fewer farmers and an increase in the size of the remaining farms, producers eagerly accepted tillage tools and grain drills with large field working widths, which could fold hydraulically for each transport.

This was the concept CrustBuster used in building implements.

“With our little company, I can very accurately say we manufactured the first folding grain drill in the U.S. commercially,” Don Hornung said. “There might have been other farmers who put two or three together, but we really pioneered the grain drill folding business.”

In the new drill, Hornung said, an air seeder meters the seed at a central location, then blows the seed out to the wings. Most of them are pulled behind planting units or pulled between on a separate cart.

“What we did, we just took the box and put it on the drill itself – making it a large capacity – 200 bushels – central fill drill,” Hornung said.

With this implement, farmers can cover about 300-plus acres a day, said Kyle Hornung, the plant manager at CrustBuster’s Spearville location and Don’s cousin.

“One guy can load it,” Kyle Hornung said. “And, with the narrow fold – the biggest thing is the narrow width – they can still get it in their shed.”

Kyle Hornung added that some competitors have 30- and 40-foot center fill drills, but 60-foot drills aren’t as common.

“The central fill puts everything centrally located,” Don Hornung added. “You can fill it in one spot, empty in one spot, change seeding in one spot.”

Modulating boll buggy

Meanwhile, Hornung and CrustBuster aren’t just helping Grain Belt farmers; they also have products being used in the Texas cotton fields.

The newest tool, however, will be unveiled in cotton country this fall. Called a modulating boll buggy, the implement combines two cotton harvest machines into one: a boll buggy and a module builder.

This product eliminates an operator and a set of machinery – the module builder and a tractor – during harvest, which helps producers be more productive. Don Hornung estimated farmers could save 3 or 4 cents a pound in harvesting cost as compared to other concepts – making a big impact on a farmer’s bottom line.

For the farm – where time is money – that is important, he said.

The company is working on a patent, he said.

“We are always working on new ideas,” he said.

Kansas Agland Editor Amy Bickel’s agriculture roots started in Gypsum. She has been covering Kansas agriculture for more than 15 years. Email her with news, photos and other information at abickel@hutchnews.com or by calling (800) 766-3311, ext. 320.