Our inventions competition attracted lots entries this year. Here are the category winners, runners-up and commended entries. Winners receive a cheque for £400 and runners-up and highly commendeds get £100.
Overly fluffed-up straw or grass swaths can be a pain for the man on the baler, but this swath roller (designed by Stewart Patten and welded up by Jonathan Rowe) has sorted the problem.
It fits on the front linkage of the tractor and stops the row of grass or straw dragging up underneath the tractor and causing a blockage. Crop now passes under the tractor and into the mouth of the baler unhindered. He also added some pegs to carry extra string.
Simon Tonkes designed this Rabbitflo rabbit fencing, which he says is easily erected and portable. Rabbits are unable to get through it thanks to fingers that run along the bottom of the fence line and drop in to the ground as the rabbit attempts to dig underneath.
He has also developed a drop box system which can be incorporated within the fence line. Further development is taking place to adapt the fence to keep out otters and mink on carp lakes, as well as badgers.
Big bale carrier
West Yorkshire farmer Sam Tindall designed this big bale carrier to be able to pick up and transport a stack of 18 80x80cm bales, thereby reducing the need for two tractors and two drivers. Instead, he can cart all the bales back from the field to the farm himself, leaving the loader to do the stacking back at the shed.
The basis of the machine is an old skip wagon top bought at a machinery sale, which also included two big hydraulic rams and pivots and pins. He also bought an old 10t trailer with a bent chassis, straightened it out and now uses it as grain trailer when the carrier is taken off. A true multi-purpose machine.
Robert Stimpson has a farming and contracting business, with the farming side involving the growing, making, marketing and delivery of 80ha (200 acres) of haylage for the equine market. One common problem is having to deliver small quantities of bales into buildings with restricted access
His solution was to fit a pair of roller tables fitter to a 5.5m (18ft) car trailer. The bales are pushed off the roller table on to a transfer table. From there, they are be picked up by a trolley (which uses a hydraulic jack to squeeze the bale) and moved to where they are needed.
The process goes as follows.
• First the bales are loaded on to the roller table on the trailer in the yard. Up to six 300kg bales can be handled
• The bales are strapped down and the transfer table and trolley are folded and secured ready for transport
• For unloading, the trolley and transfer table are unfolded and the first bale is then pushed along the roller table on to the transfer table
• The bale is then squeezed by a hydraulic jack and can then be removed from the transfer table
• It can then be pushed to the place where it is to be stored. The jack is released and the bale is dropped down, leaving the trolley clear to get the next bale.
Three-point linkage bale carrier
Paul Lowrie's bale carrier allows four bales to be transported on the tractor's three-point linkage in a two-up, two-down format. The top two bales are lifted first, allowing two more to be carried below.
As the upper bales are lifted, they are brought in closer to the tractor. That means their centre of gravity shifts forward by 1.2m (4ft), positioning them directly above the lower bales and making it possible to use the carrier on smaller tractors.
Self-loading six-bale trailer
James O'Kane from Magherafelt, Northern Ireland designed this self-loading and unloading six-bale trailer. To pick up a bale, the loading arm is lowered to the ground and the chassis lowered hydraulically too. The driver then simply moves forward, scoops up the bale and then lets it roll on to the chassis. The chassis is then raised again to get the next bale.
Back at the farm, the driver lowers the chassis and drives away, leaving the six bales in a row. The machine can handle wrapped bales too.
Home-made bean drill
This bean drill/cultivator was designed and built by Tim Stanford, farm mechanic and combine and sprayer operator at Overbury Farms, Tewkesbury, managed by Jake Freestone.
It's based on a 4m folding Sublift cultivator bought three years ago, which uses Shakerator tines on a boxed frame. A hopper and metering mechanism was robbed from a defunct 6m Accord pneumatic drill and mounted on a frame on the cultivator.
Seed is delivered through a hydraulic fan and a pressure switch was fitted to indicate low seed level. Total cost for the parts was £2082. Labour spent during the winter months was about £900.
The advantages are better soil structure and much cheaper establishment of beans/OSR - one pass means a running cost of just £9.98ha for the machine. Including a tractor and man, the operation costs just £42.29/ha.
Fred Symes wanted a way of stopping chaff building up on the knotters of his Hesston 4900 baler and causing miss-ties. A retrofit fan would have cost about £2000 so he designed his own using an empty gas bottle.
This was modified to take two 25mm electric diaphragm solenoid valves, which pipe air to the back of the knotter via plastic tubing to a 40mm pipe with holes cut in the appropriate places, He also fitted an air line to the stuffer brake, as this is also a high risk area for fires
The two valves are operated by briefly pushing a switch in the cab. Every time the knotter buzzer cycles, he pushes the button, Total cost for this set-up was £150 and it took a day (on and off) making and fitting it.
On his small hill farm in mid Wales, Chris Brooks needed something safer and more agile than a tractor when it came to thinning woodland. However, specialist forestry extraction was too expensive for the relatively small amount he has to do.
A quad bike can get up the hill and turn safely on the more level top to come back down again. However, towing the logs down with the quad is too dangerous. Once a log starts to roll it can overtake the bike and have the bike and rider over in seconds
The answer was a lightweight log-skidding dolly for the quad bike. Low-pressure, high-grip tyres were fitted, plus a simple hand-operated winch to lift and suspend the front of the log off the ground. That meant he could come down the hill safely with several hundred kg of timber behind.
The log cannot roll, and the dragging acts as a brake, preventing the bike from being pushed down. All-up cost - not including his time - was about £200.
Expanded rape swather
Charlie Wright expanded the working width of this Fortschritt rape swather from 4.1m to 4.7m, bringing benefits to the farm's own swathing and the contracting work it does for neighbours.
He started with a secondhand 4.1m swather and bought an additional 4.1m header. The first job was to graft the two machines together, taking the best of each machine, extending the knife and strengthening up the whole machine. New canvasses were fitted too.
The wheels were changed for larger ones and the platform from an old Cyclone beet harvester was added to the side to replace the flimsy steps. The bigger wheels mean that the operating speed in the field (and the road speed) has been substantially increased, And the extra 640mm width means it can cut a lot more per hour.
After talking to several buckrake manufacturers, who all said it was not possible to make a wide push-off buckrake that also folded to go through his farm gates, Charles Metcalfe decided to have a go himself.
He bought a new 2m buckrake and extra Hardox tines and made a unit that enabled both the buckrake and push-off gate to be hydraulically folded up to within less than 3m.
The buckrake has a working width of 4m and is used on a 3m-wide 360hp tractor. The buckrake can be folded up at the flick of a spool lever, enabling the tractor to roll up to the sides of the silage clamp comfortably and be taken on the road within the legal limits.
The extra width means a trailer-load of silage can be pushed up the heap in two goes, giving more time to roll the heap and be able to keep up with a self-propelled forager. The two rams which lift the fork and the two rams which fold the gate are linked together so that only one spool valve is necessary.
Northern Ireland dairy farmer Albert O'Neill made this grader blade to give his cow tracks just the right camber. The grader is trailed rather than mounted so the blade doesn't pull out of work when the tractor wheel goes over a hump of hardcore.
The steering rear axle (from a New Holland 1530 combine) allows the grader to run offset to the tractor. That means the tractor mirrors don't hit the hedges and the grader can run out below the wire fence and steer around fencing posts.
The 8ft blade can swivel through almost 90deg via two rams from an old shear grab. There's also a ram on the back, which connects the axle and the main beam. This allow the desired camber to be adjusted from the tractor seat.
The grader is lifted in and out of work by the tractor's linkage, so there's plenty of adjustment in every direction.
Working the machine up and down the track several times leaves a very smooth surface, and the job is finished with a vibrating roller to compact the fine hardcore dust firmly. The cows walk much faster and stay much cleaner without any associated foot problems, he says. The grader cost £1000 to make.
Easy-hitch hydraulic system
Alan Ead rigged up this cunning easy-attach hydraulic pipe system for silage work. The bracket clamps to the back of the tractor cab and he welded hooks on the trailers to hang the pipes on while unhitching. It means pipes can be connected and disconnected from inside the cab so there's no need to get out of the tractor to unhitch.