Geoff Ashcroft reviews those who were presented with awards at the 2014 Lamma event.
Lamma awards continue to highlight the diverse nature of agricultural machinery manufacturing and engineering achievement. And those taking home trophies from the 2014 event were no exception.
The overall winner of best new product or innovation at this year’s show was awarded to Garford Farm Machinery for its Robocrop Spot Sprayer. Using Robocrop camera guidance taken from the firm’s mechanical weeder allows the implement to instigate spot spraying of weeds in localised areas.
This new sprayer development was also awarded with best new product or innovation in the environmental category too.
Philip Garford says: “Winning not one award, but two, was the icing on the cake in the development of the Robocrop Spot Sprayer. It is quite an achievement and makes us immensely proud of the work we do to help growers be more profitable and efficient.
“It really is a radical approach to weed management, with the potential for massive cost savings in chemicals – typically 50 per cent.”
Developed in collaboration with R&D firm Tillett and Hague Technology, the Robocrop Spot Sprayer integrates camera guidance with a bespoke set of nozzles spaced 100mm (4in) apart, although they can be as close as 30mm (about 1in).
Nozzle control is fully electronic, and with camera guidance, can identify broad-leaved weeds in vegetable crops such as carrots, leeks, onions and parsnips.
Nozzles are kept under pressure at all times, following a similar principle to common rail fuel injection adopted by engine manufacturers.
When weeds are identified away from the foliage of the growing crop, the system administers a jet of glyphosate to kill the offending weed. All this is achieveable at speeds of up to 6kph.
“We have spent most of 2014 carrying out demonstrations of the system, with a positive reaction from potential customers,” he says.
“The system will be commercially available in 2015.”
Philip Garford sees the spot sprayer as part of a complete chemical application package, mounted on a tool bar up to 18 metres wide and combined with a hooded sprayer system. This would allow spot, patch or inter-row chemical application, or a combination of all three. (See main image)
Larrington Trailers won best new product or innovation in the mechanical category for its powered towing dolly.
Compared to traditional systems which rely on fixed speed mechanical drives, Larrington’s innovation sees the integration of a six-speed Allison automatic transmission and torque converter allowing the dolly wheels to be powered at speeds from 0-20kph.
Cleverly, the system takes a pto input and transfers this to ground drive through a transmission. The integration of a torque converter allows for variations in drive speed and input speed, which also prevents tractor and dolly wheel speeds from conflicting.
“Since launching the dolly, we have refined the system further,” explains Richard Larrington. “The double drive axle configuration now gets cross-axle and inter-axle locks to provide true four-wheel drive, plus an all-new air suspension system and a change in tyre and wheel equipment to suit the customer’s needs.”
The first production version has been put to work hauling artic trailers in-field during maize harvest.
Mr Larrington says: “We are extremely pleased with the development of the powered dolly, and having such innovation recognised with a Lamma award is a great achievement.”
German firm Satcon System won best new product or innovation in the technological category for its Iso LanBus development.
As a low-cost alternative to more expensive IsoBus controllers or tractor terminals, Iso LanBus adopts a communication protocal similar to that used by computers, tablets and smartphones – wireless local area network (LAN).
Doing so allows smartphones or tablet computers to be used as the interface screen, at a much lower cost than dedicated ‘dumb’ terminals.
Creator Georg Duerrstein says: “Iso LanBus is the beginning of a new communication system which also allows lower specification tractors to be used with high-specification kit.
“The tablet is then used as a controller for the implement which includes the capability to control application rates and section control, for example.”
Development of the system, however, requires tractor and implement manufacturers to install wireless LAN devices in electronic control units.
His next technological development will build upon the wireless LAN system by using such devices to operate rear lights and direction indicators for implements. Doing so can avoid the need for hard-wired electrical cables which often get damaged beyond repair on farm equipment.
“The Lamma Show and its award scheme has proved a great springboard to introduce my developments to a much wider audience,” he says.
The farm machinery and equipment innovation award, in association with Farmers Guardian, went to the Pro Fencer, created by retired fencing contractor Allan Froggatt.
Mr Froggatt developed the hydraulically controlled fencing tool to simplify unrolling and tensioning wire netting or single strands of plain or barbed wire, drawing on his 30 years of fencing experience.
“It is a great feeling to receive recognition for designing and building the Pro Fencer,” he says. “And awards such as this can only enhance a business.”
It may be recalled that the Pro Fencer is capable of carrying out multiple tasks, one of which is self-loading using a tilting turntable.
Because the turntable rotates as the wire is unrolled, it avoids rubbing the wire leading to premature wear of the wire, says Mr Froggatt.
Since winning the award at Lamma 2014, Mr Froggatt has continued to tweak the Pro Fencer. Developments to the clamp mechanism now afford two-way travel rather than one-way on the original. This offers improved operational flexibility, allowing wire to be unrolled to the front or rear of the Pro Fencer.
Mr Froggatt has also exported two Pro Fencers to Australia for a 170-mile (275km) 1.8m (5ft 11in) high fencing project. The contractor reports that 500m (1,640ft) of fencing is unrolled and tensioned in one go and the team is erecting three miles (5km) of fence on a daily basis.
“There is no doubt the Pro Fencer has boosted productivity,” he says.
Do you have a new product or innovation worthy of a Lamma award? If so, now is the time to submit your entry.
Judges will once again be looking to find the overall best new product or innovation at the 2015 Lamma Show. In addition, awards will be presented in recognition of specific contributions to different aspects of the industry, including environmental, technological and mechanical categories.
To view further details of awards and to download an entry form, please visit www.lammashow.co.uk, or contact the Lamma Competitions Secretary by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications must be received by December 1, 2014. Terms and conditions apply.