15 January 1999

INVENTION ACES CAN GO A LOT FURTHER…

A win in the new products and new inventions competitions at the LAMMA

show can be the start of a machinery success story, as Mike Williams

found when he followed up some award winners from the past

COMPETITIONS to find the best new product and best invention started in the early years of the LAMMA show and, according to show secretary John Marshall are now established as one of the most important parts of the shows programme.

"The results of these competitions always attract a lot of interest," he says. "I think they are one of the reasons why so many farmers come to the show." Mr Marshall also points out that the publicity generated in terms of media coverage also benefits the show as a whole.

"I firmly believe manufacturers must continue to produce new ideas, and competitions like these encourage the development of new products which can help the farming industry to improve efficiency," he says.

The awards may be good for the LAMMA show but there are also benefits to be had for the winners through extra sales.

One company to benefit is the agricultural engineering business run by John Thistlethwaite at South Dyke, Leyburn, Yorks, where he makes machines on a one-off basis for local farmers. He has been a LAMMA exhibitor for the last six years, and has notched up an impressive record of success in the show machinery competitions.

"Its the best show of the lot," he claims. "It only attracts people who are really interested in machinery, so you dont get the timewasters who tend go to some of the shows.

"When Ive got something new I always put it in one of the machinery competitions because I think the publicity can be useful, and weve had three winners so far. Two of them have been so successful that the demand was too much for me to handle so I signed an agreement for another company to take over the production and marketing."

Mr Thistlethwaites prizewinners are all bale handlers and the two success stories, which have been taken over by Fosters of Beverley, Yorks, are a bale handling attachment for tractor loaders and telehandlers, plus a telescopic top link to allow bale handlers to be angled for stacking and loading.

The standard bale handler can be used for round or square bales, and works with a squeeze action allowing silage bales to be handled with less risk of damaging the wrapping film. The telescopic squeeze action on the JT1000 version allows bales to be lifted singly or in pairs for topping off a stack, and spikes can be attached to the base plate for faster winter bale handling.

"I have an entry in the new products competition at this years show – a hydraulically operated cradle to turn cattle over for foot trimming. Time will tell if it turns out to be a winner."

Meanwhile, success for the Garford family came at the 1995 show when their beet harvesting equipment won both the inventions and the new products awards. The winning product was the Garford Victor six-row trailed harvester which won the inventions award for a new type of oppel wheel designed to work in difficult soil conditions.

The Victor was developed to fill a niche in the beet harvester market, allowing growers to upgrade from a four-row machine while avoiding the high capital cost of a self-propelled six-row.

Small sector

Michael Garford explains: "It is a very small sector of the market, so we knew we would not be selling the Victor in large numbers but for a machine of this type the sales have been very good indeed, and are still increasing, so we would certainly rate the Victor as a success."

"But there is no doubt about the oppel wheels. They are a big success and a lot of the growers who are using our harvesters on the heavier soils have changed over to using this type of wheel. It has four spokes instead of eight on a conventional oppel wheel, and this allows the dirt to fall through more easily, even in wet conditions. They attracted a lot of interest when we won the LAMMA award and this helped to get the idea established," says Mr Garford.

Benest Sprayers, now based at Steventon, Oxford, is also a double winner at the LAMMA show. The companys victories came in 1994 when it won the New Products award for the 18m (60ft) version of the Upspray boom, and its "golf ball" jet holder won the new inventions section.

The Upspray system was developed in the Channel Islands to provide improved spray cover in potato crops, and it is also used in other crops with a well developed leaf canopy, including sugar beet, brassicas and even strawberries.

Spray jets are carried on the end of J-shaped droplegs which take them under the leaves where the spray droplets are released. Advantages claimed for the system are increased application efficiency, particularly on the stems and leaf undersides, and reduced drift risks.

The golf ball holder carries four spray nozzles which release the spray in different directions including forwards, and this is said to increase the chemical application on to the plant surface.

Only hydraulics

"The golf-ball nozzle holder was a success at the time," said Benests Ken Dooner. "But it was designed to work with hydraulic nozzles and the trend at present is towards air assistance. That means demand for the golf ball type holder is reducing.

"I think the 18m (60ft) boom is also suffering from market trends. It was very successful for a while and we supplied this size boom on our tractor mounted, trailed and demountable sprayers, but we have introduced wider booms since then. It is still a popular size, but sales of the 18m boom have been affected by the popularity of 24m (80ft) booms. &#42