Farmers look pretty cool, all right, augering seed and fertilizer into planter hoppers, hardly lifting a finger. But it sure shoots the image when one grabs a stick or hoe and jumps up on the planter to mix in the seed treatment and inoculant.

David Lagos and neighbors, located in Michigan's thumb region, use a better tool — an auger stirrer powered by a cordless drill. Lagos makes the stirrers in his farm shop. Like a kitchen mixer, the stirrer blends soybean seed, liquid inoculant and powdered seed protectant fungicide right in the planter box. The seed gets an even coating.

Lagos got the idea about five years ago, he says, and built one for himself. His friends saw it and wanted some, too. The idea spread from there. Now Cooperative Elevator, Inc., in Pigeon, MI, offers them for sale.

“Everybody I talked to who's bought one seems well pleased. They say they don't know how they got along without one,” Lagos says.

It takes Lagos about five minutes to stir his eight seed boxes, which contain enough seed for 15 acres. The variable-speed drill creates a blender-like action, with seed pulled up by the auger and spread to the outside to gradually sink back to the center of the box.

Early in his career, Lagos was a machinist for Michigan Sugar Co., building sugar beet handling equipment and working his way into farming. He now farms 700 acres near Cass City with help from his son, Doug, who's a full-time machinist, and wife, Paula.

When he saw his new tool catching on among farmers, he set up jig and lathe settings to make about eight units an hour. He now makes them in three sizes.

Prices are in the $20 range for 12" and 20" models. The longer model is for planters with deep seed boxes.

To reach Lagos, e-mail lagosfarms@yahoo.com.