Serial inventor stole the show with solar-powered feeder

Seamus Hession of Connacht Agri won first place in the Agriculture section last year for this solar-powered cattle feeder
Seamus Hession of Connacht Agri won first place in the Agriculture section last year for this solar-powered cattle feeder

First place in the Inventions in Agriculture Class last year went to Seamus Hession of Connacht Agri for his solar-powered feeder invention, the Solar 1200 Feedsman.

The ingenious device is powered by the sun and doles out measured amounts of concentrate up to six times per day.

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Feeding time is announced with a siren so that, once trained, it will alert animals up to several fields away - no one misses out.

A programmable timer dispenses feed at the correct rate per head and can be set to increase or decrease as the animals grow. It is expected to cater for 20 adult animals.

Completely self-contained and self-powered with its own solar panel and battery bank, all it requires is regular top-ups with bulk bags, a bucket or feed blower. Seamus is well known as a serial inventor and his flair for designing is clearly sharper than ever.

First place in the student category last year went to 16-year-old Eoin McLaughlin (pictured) from Trim, Co Meath, for his Cow and Calf Safety Barrier invention.

Eoin's design allows a farmer to safely access a newborn calf even if it is in the pen with the cow.

An adjustable sliding gate can be moved out over the calf while keeping the cow safely locked away from the farmer. Eoin said his idea was inspired after he discovered the amount of farm fatalities being caused from livestock attacks on farmers. He learned to weld when he was just 12 years old. Eoin's idea drew widespread acclaim from the Judges and punters at last year's show.

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Meanwhile, back at the 2017 Tullamore Show, a then 16-year-old Jack Nagle from Kerry did the double and won top prize in both the Inventions in Agriculture category and Student Inventions category for his Tractor Safe Lock idea.

Jack told me how the Safe Lock - which automatically applies a tractor's handbrake when the driver leaves the seat - came about after his grandfather suffered a serious crush injury when a tractor rolled over him after he had forgotten to apply the handbrake.

Seamus Hession
Seamus Hession

Jack was only eight years old at the time of that accident, but it clearly stuck in his mind.

When he was a little older, he decided to do something about it after realising that such accidents were common in Irish farming.

His clever invention also won the ABP Farming Award at that year's BT Young Scientist competition. It automatically applies a tractor's handbrake when the driver leaves the seat. The idea uses a weight sensor on the seat that sends a signal to an air valve which in turn applies the tractor's handbrake.

Rural innovators put their thinking caps on for show

Tullamore is the country's biggest one-day agricultural show and around 65,000 visitors are expected to attend this year.

The show might be best known for its livestock competitions, but another section we support here at the Farming Independent is the National Inventions Competition.

At last year's show, the standard of ideas was really impressive, with strong farm safety and labour-saving themes just some of the inventions that did well.

Judges I spoke to at the show commented on the professional presentation of the inventions, with some of the designs already patent-approved and ready for market. Inventions Competition organiser Rodney Cox says there is a special focus at this year's event on encouraging third-level students from the agricultural colleges to submit entries.

"We are in the process of making a big drive to let the various agricultural colleges know that we want students to get their creative juices flowing," Mr Cox explained.

"Some of the brightest and best ideas come from people with farming experience from rural backgrounds - in previous shows, we have had many good examples of that.

"For example, in 2017 our overall winner was a very young inventor who came up with an idea to help reduce farm accidents related to tractor driving.

Green solutions

"The Judges were impressed with how this young man noticed the amount of farm accidents that are occurring and set about doing something to try to help. Looking back at last year, our overall winner was Seamus Hession with his brilliantly finished solar-powered cattle feeder. Seamus is an experienced inventor and the judges were impressed by the way he zoned in on the theme of using green solutions to help with common farming tasks," said Mr Cox.

"For the 2019 show, we are appealing to people with fresh ideas who perhaps need a bit of publicity and recognition to get their invention off the ground - this is the perfect opportunity to get the recognition your idea deserves at a major agricultural event.

"Last year saw the largest number of entries to date in our Inventions Competition, and I know the judges and sponsors are very excited to see what new and innovative entries will be entered this year."

For 2019, there are four categories for entries: Inventions in Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry, Inventions in Home, Leisure and Building and Labour Saving Device, and Student Exhibit.

The rules are that exhibits can be either new inventions or modifications to existing inventions. A representative from the Government's Patent Office may attend on the day, with the idea being to offer entrants advice and counsel on getting their idea patented and protected.

Sponsors include the Farming Independent, W.R. Shaw, the New Holland tractor dealers in Tullamore, and Glenngorey Pumps Ltd, Newbridge, Co Kildare. Judging commences from 10am on Saturday, August 10.

The result will then be announced during the actual show at 3.30pm on Sunday.

Entries are due by July 3 to the Show Office, Church St, Tullamore along with the correct entry form - available at

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