It took 46 inventions but Barry Bennett finally struck gold this year by winning the Henty Agri-Innovator Award.
A livestock producer from Barooga, Mr Bennett has entered inventions every year at Henty Machinery Field Days since 2001, and took out the award last week for one of the simplest of his designs, the Slip Tie.
The Slip Tie evolved when Mr Bennett had problems with a fuel tank moving on the back of his old farm ute and tandem trailer.
It stops any movement by the spacer strap and secures fuel tanks or hay rolls on utes and trailers.
Made from 3mm stainless steel, the Slip Tie design was engineered in Shepparton, by JMarr, in time for display at Sheepvention in August.
‘‘It got third prize at Sheepvention and I didn’t expect to win today as the runner-up was precision-finished, ready for market and a lot of thought had gone into it,’’ Mr Bennett said.
‘‘It was a pleasant shock to win as I thought it was just too simple but we need to get people interested in being farm safe.’’
He also had a second entry in the award, the Strap Grip.
Highly commended was the non-return irrigation valve entered by Peter Cocciardi from Narre Warren.
The non-return valve allows irrigators to remotely start their pumps and uses a spherical sealing element in a technique unique in the world.
Other entries included the poly spinner trailer from Luke Howard of Henty, and the ute hay bale lifter from Peter Mills of Daysdale.
The entries had to meet the criteria of having a practical on-farm application, be based on an original idea of the entrant and not be in full-scale production at the time entry.
The award was judged by Henty Machinery Field Days Co-operative members Joshua Maher, Lance Hamson and Eron Thompson at the field days on September 20.
Mr Maher said the simplicity of the winning entry set it apart from the other entries.
‘‘We were impressed with how far it could be used across the agricultural sector,’’ Mr Maher said.
‘‘It could be used on fuel tanks, hay bales and odd shaped items difficult to tie down with conventional straps.’’
Mr Bennett recalled the farmer inventors award at Henty in 2001 when there was 30 entries.
‘‘I would encourage the younger generation to come along and bring their apps or ideas,’’ he said.
‘‘I always bring two or three entries each time — it was a matter of keeping the competition going.
‘‘You can learn a lot from other inventors on how to improve your products as some are top people in their field.’’
Mr Bennett said the Slip Tie was ideal for securing wool bales and round hay bales.
He and his brother Adrian run 100 sheep and 200 cows, turning off calves at 12 months of age.
‘‘I am constantly thinking of what I can make to make jobs easier,’’ Mr Bennett said.
‘‘I had planned this year to be my last for entering the awards but now I will have to come back to defend my title.
‘‘We seem to have a feast or a famine in these competitions, and I would hate to see it die away.’’
Mr Bennett hopes to have his product commercially available within a few months.