A multi-purpose tanker trailer built in the farm workshop has won a top award in the annual Inventive Farmer Competition at this year’s Suffolk Show.
The trailer was designed by Andrew Fane for his 500ha AW Fane Farms at Hoo, Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Built during the winter months from a mixture of new and recycled components by his farm foreman, Nigel Cresswell, it took the top award for the modifications category in the competition held at the Ipswich-based show.
The original reason for making the trailer was to provide a mobile pump and clean water supply for clearing silt from the ends of field drains, but while the project was progressing they were able to include additional functions to make it more versatile.
See also: Suffolk farmers show their inventions
The finished tanker, based on the tandem-axle chassis of a 30-year old Marshall trailer and equipped with a redundant 4,000-litre diesel tank, carries a pto-powered pump, two jet wash units plus an old hose reel carrying 100m of rigid-wall pressure hose.
“New components, including a high-output pump, probably cost just over £1,000, but apart from that we used mainly recycled items, which meant the total cost was quite small,” Mr Fane explained.
“As well as cleaning the field drains, we use the tanker as a water bowser for filling the sprayer. And pressure washing is a very quick and effective method for cleaning muddy wheels, particularly when we are harvesting sugar beet,” he said.
The tanker is also a standby fire appliance. A fire a few years ago on an outlying part of the farm was an alarming experience, he said.
“Having the new trailer equipped to deal with an emergency is reassuring, and we could get to something like a stubble fire and deal with it more quickly than the fire brigade,” he said.
Tim Fogden’s turf aerator
Top award in the new equipment category went to a home-made turf aerator entered by Tim Fogden of Meadow Farm, Sapiston, Bury St Edmunds.
It is used as a rotary slitter for pasture renovation and consists of a framework towed behind a rotary topper and carrying a discarded roller from a Claas Rollant bale chamber.
The surface of the roller carries a series of holders for the replaceable blades that slit and aerate the pasture.
Robert Foster’s tractor-mounted measuring rod
Robert Foster’s entry won the top award in the competition’s gadgets category, which covers simple ideas for problem solving.
Mr Foster’s difficulty was guessing the 4m width required for the grass margin around the arable field edges on his Red Barn Farm at Badingham, Woodbridge.
His solution is a horizontally mounted rod on the front of the tractor that projects 4m to one side. It has a flexible end-section to avoid damage if it touches the boundary hedge and is white for easier visibility. It also provides easier and more accurate width guidance than relying on guesswork, he explained.
Paul Hayward’s moveable electric fencing support posts
Runner-up in the gadgets category was Paul Hayward’s idea for moveable support posts used as strainers for electric fencing wire for outdoor pigs.
The system developed for his pig unit at Ashmoor Hall, Campsea Ashe, Woodbridge, is based on old tyres that are laid flat and filled with concrete.
A sturdy, metal post with a lifting point at the top is added before the concrete sets.
The result is a low-cost straining post with a heavyweight base, robust enough to control the pigs but easily moved using a front-end loader.
George Harris’s mineral dispenser
George Harris from East Bergholt, Colchester, Essex, uses two old tractor tyres bolted together to hold 100kg tubs containing mineral supplements for cattle.
Mounted on a length of industrial conveyor belt with a hitch at one end, the mineral supply is easily moved to a different field.