Inventions Comp 2020: Bale net winch snatches second place

Thomas Mathias’ bale net lifter is runner-up in the intermediate category of the Farmers Weekly Inventions Competition.

A back-saving round bale net lifter was the centrepiece of Thomas Mathias’ course at Gelli Aur College, Carmarthenshire.

He decided to build it as an operator safety device, having realised that many farmers and contractors are breaching health and safety regs by wrestling the awkward, heavy spools up to head height.

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Bale netting lifter mounted on baler

Thomas Mathias’ bale net lifter

Mr Mathias completed all of the design and manufacturing work at the college. Expenses amounted to mild steel box section, flat and hollow tube, along with one pulley and a 12V electric winch.

In work, the loading arm is lowered from its transport position to sit flat on the ground in front of the baler. A new roll of netting is then loaded into the carriage and strapped using a single cam buckle strap.

A wireless winch – albeit with a hard-wired switch for back-up – then raises the net-carrying arm through an arc to its maximum height.

The operator removes the strap and, using a leverage arm, slowly turns the carriage through 180deg to release the roll from the loading system and into the netting chamber on the baler, ready for work.

The current design fits to original McHale baler mounting points, but could be adapted to fit other baler makes and models. A lick of the Irish firm’s trademark green paint finished the job.