A pair of heavy duty hedgecutting attachments to fit a Doosan tracklaying digger won the top award in the farm inventions competition at this year’s Suffolk Show at Ipswich.

One of the attachments is a flail-type cutting head with chain link protective curtains, and the other is a circular saw designed to cut branches up to 61cm thick.

They were built in Derek Keeble’s workshop at Blaxhall, Woodbridge, Suffolk, for his contracting business, and as well as making the attachments he also had to modify the hydraulic system on the digger, adding extra double-acting hydraulic services, boosting the pump capacity and providing extra electronic controls.

First prize: digger hedgecutter

First prize: digger hedgecutter

Benefits of using the big tracklaying digger for hedgecutting include reduced soil compaction in soft ground conditions.

There is plenty of power available and the reach and height are much greater than tractor-mounted equipment, Mr Keeble explained.

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Mr Keeble won the New Equipment class in the competition, where the runner-up was Alan Coleman of Haddiscoe, Norfolk, with a bale handling grab for a telescopic loader.

It can load or stack three of the biggest Hesston straw bales arranged either vertically or horizontally, and it will also pick up nine round straw bales.

Making the handler for last year’s harvest took an estimated 70 hours, says Mr Coleman, using mainly recycled components, including a pair of hydraulic rams from a large manure grab.

Third prize winner was Stephen March from Colchester, Essex, who designed a stillage for loader or linkage mounting to move or store pen and race sections for cattle handling.

The stillage, excluding the pen sections, cost about £135 for parts, including a new treadplate to form the base, and also galvanising the metal. The result can be handled by one person and is less than 3m wide for road travel.

The winner of the Modifications class was Kenneth Hutchinson, a contractor from Wickhambrook, Newmarket, Suffolk. His idea was adding a hinged rubber flap to the front opening of the flail cutting head for his McConnel hedgecutter.

modifications-class-flaps

Modifications class: hinged rubber flaps

With two- and three-year-old growth increasingly important in his contract work, he uses the flail head with the flap fully open to cope with the larger material, but the flap is lowered to restrict the opening for roadside cutting or working in sensitive areas such as horse paddocks.

Gadgets class runner-up

Gadgets class runner-up

Robert Foster won the Gadgets category with a soil and stone sweeping attachment for a tractor-mounted mower.

It was built at his Red Barn Farm, Badingham, Woodbridge, to clear stones and lumps of soil left on grassed headlands when cultivating arable fields, and it can also clear gravel and other debris while mowing amenity grass areas including the strips beside gravel driveways.

Runner-up in the gadgets category was Charlie Coe of Great Wenham, Colchester, Essex, who showed his home-made revival kit for young lambs suffering from hypothermia.

He recycled two 80kg capacity mineral lick containers made of easily cleaned and disinfected plastic, and cut a hole near the base of one of them.

Warm air from an electric heater fan blows through the hole into the bottom of the container and then rises through a slatted floor into the second container which contains the lamb.

Air blown into the buckets should be about 45C, and when the body temperature of the lamb reaches 37C, it can be returned to its mother.