Three years of highlights from the Farm Inventions competition

With the deadline of this year’s Farmers Weekly Inventions Competition looming, Oliver Mark takes the chance to pick through some of the genius workshop creations from the past three years.

And remember, it’s not too late to get your entry in as we’ve extended the deadline to 13 October – see ‘How to enter’, below for more details

George Anderson’s all-terrain vehicle

George Anderson's Tracked Land Rover

George Anderson married an ageing Volvo tracked personnel carrier and a Land Rover Defender 200tdi to make sure he is never beaten by the weather on his Northumberland farm.

After hacking all the frilly tinwork off the Volvo and removing the engine and gearbox, he mounted the 4×4 on top and botched up some driveshafts to connect the Volvo diffs to the LR’s transfer box.

Tim Gibson’s automatic feeder

Tom GIbson's feeder

Tim Gibson built his own automated feeding system to improve milk quality and yields.

Having resisted the temptation to flatten the existing sheds, he improvised by using a static Cormall blending mixer and 55m-worth of crisscrossing conveyors to feed each of his three sheds.

It takes 25 minutes to fill the mixer for 24 hours and there’s an LCD screen that allows the herdsmen to set specific times that the feeder runs and the quantity of food it delivers.

Robert Drummond’s multitasking skidsteer

Robert Drummond's multitasking skidsteer

Ayrshire dairyman Robert Drummond knocked up a galvanised three-in-one machine that brushes the floor slats clean, pushes up nosed-out grub along the feed barrier and throws sawdust across the beds from a Flingk hopper.

The whole lot is carried on a Belle 761 skidsteer piggybacking 160kg in counterweights and the two-week job cost £1,300.

Matt Brocklesby’s drill

© Tim Scrivener

Matt Brocklesby and Marcus Simpson built a 6m mounted drill to tackle the late season drilling at Coates Hall Farm, Lincolnshire.

The 6t setup used £20,000-worth of parts and runs with a front counterweight in the form of an old Accord DF2 hopper to keep the tractor’s wheels on the ground.

Meredith George’s grain dryer

A grain dryer

A removable false floor made of sheet steel and dotted with 3mm holes has allowed Pembrokeshire farmer Meredith George to increase his drying capacity by using a spare trailer.

A 150mm-wide chimney takes the flow of air underneath the crop from an electric-motor-driven Assentoft blower.

Cyril Patterson’s fencer


Cyril Patterson used two hubs and the handbrake arrangement from an old Vauxhall Vectra to concoct a neat tool for rolling out and tensioning stock netting or barbed wire using his mini-digger.

Rod Cowlin’s drill

A strip-till drill

Rod Cowlin from Suffolk built this strip-till drill to reduce oilseed rape establishment costs.

The front A-frame and folding wings were pinched from an old 6m Lely CultiTerra, which carries the 2.5m-long RSJ backbone.

The double-disc coulters were sourced from Weaving Machinery.

Wayne Heath’s ratchet winder

Wayne Heath's ratchet strap winder

The simple things are sometimes the best. Wayne Heath’s ratchet winder uses a spinning inner tube that, at one end has a 2in slot to hold the strap in place, and at the other, has a winding handle.

The inner pipe is sheathed by an outer tube that forms the handle and also carries a hook to hold the metal end.

Frank Henderson’s cement mixer

A cement mixer

Keen fabricator Frank Henderson built his own telehandler-mounted cement mixer from half of an old gas tank welded to a 28in tractor rim.

A loop of chain is welded to the rim, which is turned by a sprocket wheel driven from a Chinese-sourced hydraulic motor.

A full load roughly equates to 48 shovels’ worth, so a couple of bags of cement complete a 6:1 mix.

Four bars inside the barrel provide maximum mixing effect.

Hugh Richards’ bale grab

Hugh Richards bale grab

The Alligator bale grab was built by Kent livestock farmer Hugh Richards to speed up the collection of 4ftx2ft straw bales from his arable neighbours.

It uses two rails carrying eight menacing-looking 280mm tines and has curved steel skis at the ends to avoid digging into the ground.

It picks up bales endways to plonk one on top of the other and means the telehandler can run parallel with the tramlines.

Ed Coombes’ cubicle cleaner

Ed Coombes' cubicle cleaner

An old three-wheeled greens lawnmower provided Somerset dairy farmer Ed Coombes with a nifty cow bedder.

He bought the Kubota powered machine for £287 before fitting a Suton cubicle brush and an AG mini lime spreader for a one-pass job.

Tom Carrigan’s bale chaser

Tom Carrigan's round bale chaser

This bale chaser is the brainchild of County Kilkenny dairy farmer Tom Carrigan.

It uses a swing arm to scoop up silage rounds and place them on rails ready for stacking, doing away with the arduous task of loading and unloading flatbed trailers with the telehandler.

It will carry 16 bales at a time, can be loaded in just 12 minutes and took four years to design and build.

Richard Sadler’s weed wiper

Richard Sadler's weed wiper

Richard Sadler is waging war on blackgrass with his home-built 24m trailed weed wiper.

The five-section frame is controlled hydraulically from the cab and runs on pivoting, skinny space saver car wheels to follow ground contours without flattening too much ground.

Glyphosate is held in two 110-litre tanks, which keeps the drip-free sponge bar saturated.

Mark Pearson’s pivot-steer loader

Mark Pearson's pivot-steer loader

One of the stand-out feats of workshop engineering is the pivot-steer loader built by Mark Pearson and his late brother Nick. At its heart is a 48hp Perkins P3 engine that runs through a JCB 3c torque converter and via a forward/

At its heart is a 48hp Perkins P3 engine that runs through a JCB 3c torque converter and via a forward/reverse unit to a two- speed home-made gearbox.

How to enter the Inventions Competition

We’ve extended the deadline of our annual Inventions Competition to Friday 13 October, so there’s still time to enter.

All you have to do is send a few pictures and some basic information about what the machine does and how you made it to

As usual there are three categories that all carry cash prizes, so it doesn’t matter how big or small your workshop creation is – you’ll still be in with a chance of winning.