Farmers Weekly’s annual Inventions Competition is open for entries and there is a £2,550 prize pot for the winners. To get you in the mood, we have picked some of the highlights from the past three years.
John Stephens’ Cornish loader
Intermediate category winner 2019
The wackiest invention of 2019 was John Stephens’ Cornish loader. It is based on a 5t Thwaites dumper, from which he removed the skip and replaced it with a loader from a David Brown 995.
The dump truck’s swivel means it can turn in either direction – ideal for getting into awkward corners of cow sheds.
He also lowered the roll bar and fitted a roof canopy to provide some protection from winter rain and a mounting point for the lights.
It is used daily through the winter for feeding and bedding, and it also works on the silage clamp in early summer.
Jeff Bradshaw’s fertiliser trailer
Simple category 2017
Jeff Bradshaw had used a fertiliser spreader with a loading crane for many years but, to limit the amount of time he spent on the road ferrying product, he needed a means of carrying multiple bags with him to the field.
To do it, he extended the drawbar and fitted a swan-neck to a second-hand 10t Griffiths trailer so it could be picked up with the spreader mounted on the tractor’s link arms.
Side and rear rails made out of scaffold poles keep the bags in place, and a roll-up sheet repels the worst of the weather.
Once in the field, he drops the trailer off and loads the spreader from the side via the crane.
The trailer can hold 8-10t of fertiliser, meaning he can do three or four full loads without relying on another driver and tractor to bring bags to him.
Simon Walter’s hybrid cultivator
Intermediate category 2019
Hayling Island farmer Simon Walter developed a 3m hybrid cultivator that he uses to bash his clay soils into submission and bury annually applied compost.
It has a reduced number of mid-depth (200mm) Lemken legs – down from seven to five – and a further two subsoiler legs in line with the tractor wheels.
These run at 350mm deep to remove any compaction. There are two versions of the same machine – one runs a power-harrow on the back, while the second has a rotavator attachment.
Both stir in the straw and leave a flat, cultivated layer on top, ready for seeding. The pto-powered implement also allows him to make the most of the New Holland tractor’s engine-boost facility.
Harry Wiseman’s bale spreader
Complex category runner-up 2019
Harry Wiseman’s ingenious bale spreader was devised to work in the narrow passages of pig sheds.
He designed it using 3D software package Solidworks and had the main components laser cut and folded at a local engineering firm before carrying out fabrication and fitting in the workshop.
It mounts to a telescopic handler and can evenly spread square bales of various sizes up to 12m out of the left side.
All in, the professional build cost Mr Wiseman about £6,000.
Andrew Metson’s front linkage toolbox
Intermediate category 2017
Essex tinkerer Andrew Metson built a new front linkage toolbox for a Fendt 939 that has the option of adding or removing weight depending on the job in hand.
The bright green box has two lockable compartments on either side for tools and cultivator points, as well as a handy holder for a grease gun and cartridge.
There are two quick-release linkage hooks mounted directly in line with the tractor’s front arms in the centre of the box, allowing it to scoop up or drop off weight blocks in the normal manner.
Mr Metson has also constructed a steel storage box that fills the gap when the weights aren’t attached.
John Palmer’s wheel-changing blocks
Simple category 2019
To make wheel changes quicker and safer, Spalding-based farmer John Palmer fabricated some secure blocks out of three lengths of RSJ welded in an H-pattern with a bar on top that the link-arm balls can fix to.
His Fendt’s double-acting front and rear linkages meant the tractor was already capable of lifting itself off the ground. However, the new blocks mean it can now do it safely, without the need for props.
William Barton’s quad bike security system
Simple category winner 2017
Nottinghamshire farmer William Barton won the 2017 simple category for his thief-proof method of quad bike storage.
It consists of a frame attached to a remote-controlled winch to hoist his ATV up into the rafters of the shed.
Cleverly, the remote control is tucked away safely in the farmhouse to further flummox unwanted visitors. The framework was simple and cheap to knock up out of angle iron lying around the workshop.
Ben Lount’s fertiliser toolbar
Simple category 2019
Ben Lount used the headstock from a redundant Maschio power harrow and mounted a 120-litre Stocks Micro Meter seeding unit that allowed him to trickle fertiliser on wild bird seed areas.
The product flows down six tubes to spreader plates that are placed to cast granules over the full 3m width.
It cost virtually nothing to build as everything was on the farm already – even the Stocks applicator, which was used for oilseed rape drilling with a Sumo Trio.
John Lord’s gate storage frame
Simple category 2017
Gates and hurdles are a pain to store in a tidy fashion, so John Lord decided to knock up some simple frames out of recycled steel to hang them on.
Each frame holds about 40 hurdles, which are slid onto a pair of rails on each side. Removable pins are then slotted into the end of each rail to secure them and there are channels underneath for pallet forks so the loaded frames can be moved around the farm.
Thomas Mathias’ bale net lifter
Intermediate category runner-up 2020
A back-saving round bale net lifter was the centrepiece of Thomas Mathias’ course at Gelli Aur College, Carmarthenshire, which he decided to build as a safety device to stop operators wrestling the heavy spools up to head height.
Expenses amounted to mild steel box section, flat and hollow tube, along with one pulley and a 12V electric winch.
A roll of netting is pushed onto the lifter at ground level before a wireless winch raises the net-carrying arm through an arc to its maximum height. Once at the top, the operator turns the carriage by 180deg to release the roll into the netting chamber.
Don’t forget to enter
Entering the competition is simple – just send a few decent pictures of the machine to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It can be anything you’ve built that has made your life easier, saved time or money. Plus, you’ll win some cash if you finish in the top three spots in each category – simple, intermediate and complex.
Closing date for entries is 29 January 2021 and full details can be found online.
To achieve your goals, you need the right tools for the job. If what you need doesn’t exist, simply invent it. We share this ethos and used it to create the Ineos Grenadier. An uncompromising 4×4, built on purpose and there to support those who need it most.