Local inventors will be featured on ‘American Farmer’

By David Lias


The entrepreneurial spirit of the Deb and Ron Hesla family of rural Wakonda will be featured in an upcoming broadcast of the television program entitled “American Farmer.”

The program, featuring a six-minute clip of the Heslas and their invention, Pro Mags, will air twice – at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 13, and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 16.

Saturday’s broadcast of “American Farmer” can be seen on FamilyNet. The program is available via cable and on Channel 232 of the Dish Network.

Tuesday’s re-broadcast of the program will appear on RFD TV, which is available on Channel 345 on Direct TV, and Channel 231 on the Dish Network. Midcontinent cable television subscribers in Vermillion who have signed up for a sports and variety package may find RFD-TV on channel 131.

The star of the televised segment will be Pro Mags, a new gauge-wheel design that keeps planters debris-free.

The Hesla family discovered debris to be a constant and frustrating problem while planting corn on 40 acres of river-bottom tract land that Deb inherited several years ago near their home outside Wakonda.

The first spring Ron Hesla planted the field, the process was greatly hampered when wet soil stuck to his no-till planter gauge wheels.

That inspired Hesla to begin tinkering with a gauge-wheel design. Eric Hesla, the son of Rob and Deb and a student at the University of South Dakota, entered a family business plan based on the design in the school’s 2007 Extraordinary Idea Competition and won first place. That same year, he earned second place with the plan in the South Dakota governor’s Giant Vision Student Competition.

Those honors and five years of successful on-farm testing convinced the father and son to market the device. The Heslas formally launched their business, Pro Mags LLC.

According to the company’s web page, the Heslas made numerous discoveries about the planter plugging process during many years of testing, from the “rolling wedge” that can develop in-between two furrow-opening discs, to the trash and soil obstacle created by the frame-mounted scraper arms of conventional planters.

During the development of the gauge wheel, the Heslas designed and tested various wheel liners, trash-deflectors and scrapers, along with a variety of slot configurations to come up with the best designed combination of products for effective planting in varied weather conditions.

The Pro Mags all-weather gauge wheel system attaches readily and easily to every major brand of planter with no modification(s) to the planter itself.

The gauge-wheel system is designed to work on all conventional seed planters and drills. The wheels are currently available in two thicknesses, 13 gauge and 11 gauge, both with a 4.5-inch width. While both are standard sizes, they are lighter in weight than similar products. No planter modification is required to use the Pro Mags gauge-wheel system.

As part of the gauge-wheel system, the Heslas designed a new universal scraper. It has a radial design that allows farmers to adjust the scraper blade to make contact anywhere along the edge of the opening disk.

Learn more about the Heslas’ invention by logging on to www.promagsonline.com.

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