New Windmill Near Shedd Removes Water

By Heather Turner

SHEDD, Ore. -- Windmills have been used to help farmers and ranchers pull water out of the ground to use on their land for more than 150 years.

But a different type of windmill has been introduced, and a local family farm says they're the first in North America to test it out.

Traditionally, windmills are used to extract water for some sort of usage, like livestock or irrigation, but this new system is being used differently.  It's actually taking the water out of the drainage system, and just simply getting rid of it.

Oak Park Farms has been in the Coon family for 150 years.  But this new addition has only been around for a few months.

It's already helping increase productivity in their 66-acre, heavily saturated grain field.

"We want to increase the opportunities that we have to grow different crops and maybe higher value crops," Mike said.

The system has a much larger pump than normal.

It's used to move a lot of water in a short period of time.

"Most pumps can move only four to maybe 80 gallons in a minute, and this one will do 500 gallons in a minute and that's what makes it really unique," said Donald Coon, Oak Park Farms co-owner.

It takes 150-year-old technology and adds a twist.

"We're picking it up from five feet down, so the water comes in, it drops into the hole, and then we pick it up and lift it with the use of the wind," Donald said.

The Coon cousins decided to install the windmill because the farm is so far out, it would be difficult and expensive to get electricity to do the job.

"We're a long ways from a power source here.  So we had to come up with a different way to lift that water out of the system if we were going to increase the productivity of this soil," Mike said.

And they say it's actually better for the soil.

"Things can get carried off when it just runs off the field much more than if it goes down through the profile and then leaves the ground," Mike said.

Mike and Donald say it's actually working very well and they may even consider using this system on more projects in the future.