Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Inventors rise to the challenge

The National Inventions Competition at Sunday's Tullamore Show proved a real highlight of the day, as can be seen from our pictorial review

Tractor pull for autism
Tractor pull for autism
Safety gate for castrating bulls
Contraption for lifting heavy kerbs
Perennial inventor: Vincent Kiernan from Granard
Gardening gem
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

It was a pleasure to stroll around the inventions section of the Show on Sunday, where I met some brilliant characters. Every inventor had an infectious enthusiasm in his or her search for that perfect idea that we all strive for.

In total around 30 different inventions were presented, and this year the top honour in the main class - Inventions in Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture - went to Pat Keary for his safety gate for castrating cattle. Mr Keary's idea caught the eye of the judges for its relevance in improving safety while castrating bulls, and with so many farm fatalities taking place due to livestock accidents it is certainly a worthy winner.

In second place was Vincent Kiernan with his mobile crush unit - a one stop shop for handling cattle. Mr Kiernan's idea aims to reduce the stress endured by both man and beast during calving and dosing.

The Inventions Competition, which is sponsored by the Farming Independent, WR Shaw and Glenngorey Pumps, also sees a number of entries come in under the "labour saving" banner each year. Two inventions that caught my eye in this category were Aidan O Connell's very handy ATV attachment for fencing, and Sean Kenny's kerb lifter.

After a few hours browsing on a sunny day in Tullamore it became clear that many of the concepts on display came about as a result of personal experience or challenges faced on the farm. I found the inventor's story was often as interesting as the new idea itself.

It was great to see Estelle Parkinson and Ellen O' Donnell - two young students about to enter Transition Year - present their concept for a slurry gas monitoring system called 'Gas Hear'. The system detects dangerous slurry gases in the air once they reach a certain concentration and then automatically sends a warning text message to five designated mobile phone numbers. The idea is to prevent a farmer becoming isolated while agitating slurry and unwittingly releasing dangerous gases. A brilliant idea, and one that left us mere mortals wondering why no one had come up with something similar before? I suppose this is the way with all good inventions, and it's refreshing to see the future is in good hands lots of young inventors on the rise.

A recent addition to the inventions competition is the presence of a very helpful team from the patents office in Kilkenny. The patents office team were busy on Sunday answering questions from budding inventors, and this is a really important consideration because without a patent the inventor would not be able to prevent others from copying the idea. It is often the case that first time inventors - even though they might have a really good idea - are not in a position to produce or market their product from their own resources. Patents provide a basis for owners to negotiate with potential investors while preserving their intellectual property rights. This is the kind of advice that is crucial to any up and coming inventor.

As can be seen from this pictorial round up featuring some of the highlights, the new designs often spawned from an idea to improve safety on or around the farm, or to take the backbreaking work out of doing an everyday farming task. We weren't able to feature every invention due to space pressures, but well done to all involved.

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Safe bull castration

The winner in the Inventions in Agriculture section was Pat Keary for this 'Anti-Kick Bar' for castrating bulls. Mr Keary, who comes from Loughrea in Galway, impressed judges with his fail safe design that completely removes the threat of a bull being able to kick the farmer while castration is taking place. The unit can move up or down the crush rails depending on the size of the bull, and it is set to go on sale for €400 including VAT.

"I got the idea from talking to other farmers and from my own farm," revealed Mr Keary, who can be contacted on 087 2264568. "It is one of the most dangerous jobs a livestock farmer has to do, but this unit can change all that."

Taking the back break out of lifting heavy kerbs

Civil engineer Sean Kenny, who comes from Ballinasloe, presented his new design for a kerb lifter at Tullamore. Mr Kenny's design drew from his building site experience as a civil engineer, and it cleverly uses the age old law of the lever to greatly reduce the effort required to lift even the heaviest of kerbs. He is targeting county councils, contractors and hire companies for sales.

Mr Kenny plans to sell it for €450 plus VAT for a galvanised version, and can be contacted on 086 3691345.

Crush packs in features

Perennial inventor at Tullamore Vincent Kiernan from Granard in Longford displayed his one stop shop 'Mobile Crush Unit'. Mr Kiernan's latest design features a winch for lifting a calf clear from a cow's womb post Caesarean section, thereby preventing the cow going down and killing the calf. A second new feature is a winch that can bring a stubborn cow safely up to the front of the crush for dosing without stressing man or beast. Priced at €2,750 plus VAT, contact 086 3343346.

A  true gardening gem

Coming in at third place in the Inventions in Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry was the Cutting Globe designed by Mike Hoban. A really simple but clever device, it is specially designed to take a good size root ball to support a cutting and propagate a new plant in the process.

The simple concept facilitates a propagation method called air layering used for nearly 4,000 years. The small globe is designed to take cuttings from climbers and long stemmed slim plants, while the large globe is designed to take cuttings from shrubs and trees. Priced at just €5, they sold like hotcakes at the show.

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