20 of the best farm inventions

 This year’s farm inventions competition was full of clever, workshop-built machinery. Here are the winners and runners up for each category.


Complex category


Winner: Tim Gibson’s cow feeder


In a bid to boost milk yield and improve cow condition Tim Gibson set about building a custom automatic feeding system. Based on a central mixer bought from a feed mill in Denmark and conveyors picked up on Ebay, the system keeps his 200 cows topped-up with feed throughout the day. The system took about six weeks to build and cost £55,000.




Runner-up: Robert Gash’s oilseed rape drill




Newark farmer Rob Gash built his 3m-wide oilseed rape drill for just £2,000 using a combination of new parts and scrap metal. Low-disturbance subsoiler legs are used to crack through the farm’s heavy clay soils and a packer sourced from Lincolnshire firm TWB consolidates the seed-bed. Coulters salvaged from an old Horsch Pronto drill plant the seed and a liquid fertiliser applicator was also fitted.


Best of the rest:


Aaron Hogsberg’s band sprayer




Serial inventor Aaron Hogsberg built this brand sprayer to help lower chemical costs and improve efficacy when spraying sugar beet. It can be bolted on his sugar beet drill or his Garford Robocrop hoe for use later in the season. Rate control is via an RDS unit and it has a front-mounted tank. He uses it on a Claas Axos 340 with RTK guidance.


Steve Davies’ mobile handling pen




Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Steve Davies designed his own mobile cattle raceway to deal with his herd of 160 cows, plus followers during TB testing. A salvaged Hi-Spec feeder wagon chassis carries the trailer-mounted race, which includes an IAE yoke and assorted fencing. The whole system is pushed into position using a hydraulic ram and takes about two minutes to set up.


Matt Brocklesby’s tine drill




Matt Brocklesby built this impressive mounted tine drill to take over from the farm’s 8m Vaderstad Rapid when the going gets too sticky. The production job took almost six weeks and cost between £10,000 and £15,000. A front-mounted Kverneland hopper holds the seed and helps counter the weight of the drilling rig hanging off the rear.


John Lyon’s seven-leg-subsoiler




Having hunted high and low for a reasonably priced replacement for the farm’s Teagle subsoiler, John Lyon scribbled out a few basic drawings before deciding he could build one himself. More than 6t of steel went into the project, most of which came from 12mm box section. The roller was made in-house, too. The subsoiler is 4.2m wide and needs a minimum of 430hp on the front.


Rob and George Chillcot’s seed drill




Father-and-son team Rob and George Chillcot decided they were compacting the soil too much during cultivations on their Somerset farm. The answer was to build a one-pass cultivator drill. The Chillcot’s bought some Simba Freeflow tines and a scavenged seed box and metering system from an Accord drill. They then mounted the whole lot on a home-made 4.6m frame.


Intermediate category


Winner: Robert Drummond’s skid-steer loader




Robert Drummond built this ingenious three-in-one skidsteer loader to scape and brush slatted floors while blowing sawdust into cubicles. It can also be used to push silage into hungry mouths. The build was completed in his spare evenings over two weeks and Mr Drummond has been using the machine on the front of his Irish-built Belle skidsteer for the past five years. Total build cost was £1,300.


Runner-up: Simon Lord’s post vibrator




John Lord’s inventive farm-made vibrating post knocker was put together using spare parts knocking around the farm. The hydraulic vibrator is insulated from the JCB telehandler by a tyre and it’s powered by the loader’s hydraulics. It will push a 1.8m or 2.1m post without a point as deep as necessary.


Best of the rest


Joe Williams’ silage loader




Joe Willams’ silage loader can be used to load grass, wholecrop and maize silage for anaerobic digesters. It’s a standalone machine that can be positioned on hard standing to load from farm trailers into road-going bulkers. It can load 14t in just five minutes and is powered by a 75hp Deutz engine via two hydraulic pumps from a Liebherr digger.


Robert Hooper’s swivelling roller




Robert Hooper’s roller has a 42in barrel and weights about 4.5t. A single hydraulic ram moves the drawbar and axle in one movement to shift from field to road mode. The build cost was £2,500.


Albert O’Neil’s slurry vale warning system




Albert O’Neil came up with this clever system to stop valves being left open when the slurry tanker is filling. A warning beacon and an alarm similar to the reversing bleeper on a telehandler were rigged up and powered by a 12v tractor battery. A switch is fitted to the external arm on one of the valves, which fires off the alarms when it is engaged.


George Anderson’s tracked Land Rover




Northumberland fill farmer George Anderson mated a rusting Volvo personnel carrier with an old Land Rover Defender to make this go-anywhere hill vehicle. First he removed all the bodywork from the ex-Swedish Army Volvo and built a trailer body on the rear driven section. He then did the same on the front before dropping on the Land Rover. Once drive shafts were connected it was ready to go. In total the project cost £2,000.


Josiah Jones’ tipping trailer




Student Josiah Jones built this remote-controlled tilting flatbed using an old boat-moving trailer and some electric hydraulic valves from a Chafer sprayer. A sub-chassis was slung under the main trailer body with a pivot point in front of the wheels allowing it to tilt. An electronic winch control was then linked to the Chafer valves so he could lift it remotely.


Kevin Trotter’s pigtail press




Kelso farmer Kevin Trotter built a hefty looking trailed press earlier this year to knock down furrows ahead of his combination drill. The 4m press folds hydraulically and has three rows of pigtail tines at the front followed by hydraulically adjusted levelling boards. There’s then a packer at the rear. It cost about £9,000 to build.


Simple category


Winner: Jonathan Caygill’s sheep feed trailer




Seasoned inventor Jonathan Caygill came up with this multi-use trailer to feed and carry sheep on his farm at Rylestone near Skipton. The Easy Sheep Feed Trailer has a hopper at the front that holds up to 275kg of feed. Once in the field the feed is released by pulling a rope attached to a sprung lever. When the hopper is empty the lid can be dropped in to the bottom giving a safe place for holding up to 12 lambs. Six ewes can then be put in the back of the trailer.


Runner-up: Frank Henderson’s dog flap




Oxfordshire farmer Frank Henderson was fed up with poor quality commercial dog flaps so set about building his own. It’s made out of 2mm steel and opens around a central pivot, and because the door has a larger surface area than the opening, wind blows it shut. A lightweight spring helps it on its way and a magnet gives it a satisfying clunk as it closes.


Best of the rest


Mark Taylor’s three-point linkage adaptor




Dairy farmer Mark Taylor designed this useful-looking three-point linkage adapter for his telehandler. It can pick up all of the farm’s mounted equipment and the link arms slide along a steel beam to suit machines with different width linkages.


Gavin Beazley’s fodder beet trailer




Gavin Beazley’s ATV fodder beat trailer allows simple feeding of beet in the field without churning up the grass. The trailer is loaded with a telehandler and the driver flicks two catches underneath the hoper floor allowing the beet to dribble out slowly.


See also: Farm inventions to change your life