Inventions Competition 2024: Malcolm Pattullo’s cover crop broadcaster

Malcolm Pattullo’s cover crop broadcaster placed third in the intermediate category of Farmers Weekly’s annual Inventions Competition.

Late harvests in Arbroath, Angus, leave little time to get cover crops established, so 24-year-old Malcolm Pattullo built a broadcaster for spreading seed mixes in a standing crop two weeks ahead of the combine.

He already owned the primary component – a pneumatic front tank normally used for applying fertiliser while sowing spring barley and planting potatoes.

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This is mounted to a three-point linkage on the broadcaster’s main frame, allowing it to be quickly removed when it’s required for other duties.

Because it needs to be lifted clear of the crop, the original ground-driven metering system was adapted using a hydraulic ram to push an old wheelbarrow wheel against the tractor’s rear tyre.

Wind from the hopper’s fan blows the eight-species seed mix through smooth-walled plastic tubes to four distribution heads dotted along the boom.

These then feed spreader plates, folded by a local blacksmith, set 84cm apart.

Cover crop broadcaster

© Malcolm Pattullo

Boom extension

The boom, salvaged from a Scorgie sprayer, cost £1,000, but a fair bit of work was required to extend it from 24m to 27m to match the sprayer tramlines.

It folds to either side of the cab, where it rests on a custom-made bracket on the back of the weight block.

The total build cost was less than £4,000, making it a quick, cheap and zero-disturbance means of establishing cover crops – particularly when compared with running a set of discs or a power-harrow combi drill after harvest to achieve the same result.

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