Remember picking rocks as a kid?

As one of 18 children raised on a 360-acre farm and dairy in west-central Minnesota, Mel Aho began at the age of 5 or 6 years old to pick rocks from the fields and to take turns steering a tractor as his siblings picked rocks and loaded them into the wagon.

They picked rocks each year until the crops grew higher than the rocks. The family rule was that, “If you weren’t big enough to pick a rock the size of your head, you could steer a tractor.”

Now in his 50s, Mel Aho has spent the last two decades acquiring farm land in the township where he was born. As he began the task of turning marginal land into commercially viable farmland, one of Mel’s biggest challenges was to come up with a comprehensive approach to address the natural condition of the soil, which has always contained many rocks.

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the story behind ...

... begins with a stoney field.

"I would have bought this machine
 if I could have, but I couldn't find
 anything like it ... so I built it."

-Mel Aho, Creator of the machine


Mel Aho grew up on the family dairy farm in Minnesota. He is the guy whose relentless pursuit of rock picker technology brought forth this innovative machine. Mel continues to operate his farm in Minnesota while running his home building company in Vancouver, WA.

Mark ("Merf") Aho grew up farming in Minnesota alongside his brother Mel. After selling his New England-based steel erecting business, which he ran since 1983, Merf has taken up the task of promoting and hiring out the machine as the RP1000 Rock Picker℠.

Perry Gilmour is a 3rd generation farmer from the Willamette Valley. He is the guy who generated the design for the new rock picker. His background is in specialty crops, so he is no stranger to the process of developing specialty equipment.