Father-son farmers win Ag Innovation awards

One pair found a better way to unplug the combine, the other a quick way to measure harvest losses

The newest agriculture equipment, services, and technologies — not just in North America, but in the world — are set to hit Red Deer in November.

One of the highlights of Agri-Trade is the Ag Innovation awards.

“It is always difficult to get it down to three winners,” said Rod Bradshaw, an Innisfail-area crop and vegetable producer who chairs the judging panel. “The technology is diversifying every year, and the ideas keep getting better. We believe this year’s winning entries will have broad appeal and could be readily adopted by a lot of farmers.”

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This year’s winners are Arnold Innovations Combine Cylinder Reverser, ScherGain Drop Pan, and PowerLift Hydraulic Doors.

Arnold Innovations Combine Cylinder Reverser

The device was created out of necessity as a safer alternative to unplugging combine headers, said Doug Arnold, managing partner at Arnold Innovations.

“My dad was hurt unplugging his combine,” Arnold said. “He was using the wrench (the combine manufacturer supplies), he put it up under his shoulder and pushed up on it, and pinched a nerve underneath his collarbone.”

After being in pain for more than a year, Arnold’s dad came to him and said, “We have to be able to design something better.”

“So he and I put our heads together and tried to design something that didn’t use human power to unplug (the header).”

It took a few years to refine the design and test the device, which made its debut at Brandon’s Ag Days in 2015 (Arnold’s parents have a grain operation northwest of the city). Its biggest feature is it can be operated by one person, he said.

The company has two versions — the AI100-CX for New Holland CX series and the AI100-Lexion for Claas (CAT) Lexion combines.

“The system includes a bolt-on mount which a hydraulic cylinder mounts to and onto that the ratchet head and arm mount,” said Arnold. “The reverser has a long handle to assist the user to lift the ratchet head onto the cylinder pulley.”

The ratchet head has three positions: forward, lock, and reverse. The lock position allows an operator to rock the combine cylinder back and forth to break up the blockage while in the reverse position, the ratchet head goes in one direction allowing the unit to continually turn the combine cylinder backwards.

“The unit is operated using the provided spool valve. When not in use, the ratchet head conveniently stores in its own cradle attached to the combine.”

The AI100-Lexion was reconfigured to fit the Lexion machine.

“This kit comes with a machined pulley hub that bolts onto the combine’s cylinder pulley which allows for the use of a similar-style open-ended ratchet head as the New Holland reverser,” said Arnold.

Two other types of reversers are being developed, with one due to be released in early 2018. For more info, go to www.arnoldinnovations.ca.

ScherGain Drop Pan

This is another invention born from a field discussion.

Trevor Scherman and his father Pat were concerned about losses during harvest.

“What we were finding with large-horsepower combines, when they are in canola or other speciality crops, they have so much power, we just can’t keep the grain in the combines,” Trevor Scherman said.

It was a major issue on their farm, and he knew of others struggling with grain loss, he said.

Their invention is “a simple and easy way to measure combine losses.” (see photo at top and below)

Trevor Scherman and his father created their drop pan to quickly and easily determine how much grain was being lost out of the back of the combine.
photo: ScherGain

With the straw chopper and spreader lifted, the pan can be attached to the combine.

“Once the magnets are activated, you stick it (the drop pan) to the bottom of the combine,” he said. “Once you get to your travel speed where you think you’re comfortable with your losses, you hit the remote and the pan falls to the ground.”

It’s equally easy to calculate losses. The device comes with a grain gauge and a chart (that factors in header size and the type of crop) for estimating losses.

“It’s very simple and easy — there’s no apps or calculations, we’ve done all that work,” said Scherman. “We’ve developed it to fit on every combine. That is the selling feature of it.”

Scherman said when he applied for the Ag Innovation award, he was hoping the company would sell 20 drop pans in total. The drop pans went on sale in July and the company sold 20 the first day just through Twitter.

And they have yet to advertise, relying on both social media and word of mouth to sell their product, which costs $1,800.

“You ship one into an area, and that grower will talk to five to six more growers and we’ll ship more in that area,” said Scherman.

For more info, go to www.schergain.ca (or @schergain on Twitter).

Powerlift Hydraulic Door

This device is made for agriculture shops. Powerlift’s website boasts the doors “allow full use of your building wall height to maximize entry clearance. We can often increase the width of door openings that are too narrow for today’s equipment.”

The hinges on the doors feature a one-inch-diameter 100,000-psi-rated stress-proof shaft running within a patented greaseless bushing. The hinge bushings are made of high-grade steel and porous bronze matrix filled with a synthetic fluoropolymer that has one of the lowest friction coefficients of any solid material without using any form of lubricant. For more info on the U.S.-made doors or to find a Prairie distributor, go to www.powerliftdoors.com.

Each of the three winners will be given $1,500 to donate to the charity of their choice. Their devices will be on display at Agri-Trade from Nov. 8-11.

About the author

Contributor

Jill Burkhardt, her husband, Kelly, and their two children, own and operate a mixed farm near Gwynne, Alberta. Originally hailing from Montana, she has a degree in Range Management from Montana State University. Jill’s agricultural passions are cattle and range management but she enjoys writing and learning more about all aspects of farming.

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