Stay safe when feeding out

Henty farmer Daniel Klemke received the TEKFARM Agritech Innovative Producer Award at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

The problems of cutting strings on large square hale bays while feeding them into a mixer spawned an award-winning idea for Henty farmer Daniel Klemke.

His design, called the Safe-Cut, won the TEKFARM Agritech Innovative Producer Award at the Henty Machinery Field Days in September.

The 2023 Henty Machinery Field Days marked the resurgence of the Agri-Innovators Award in partnership with Farmers2Founders to showcase innovative solutions ready for adoption on farm.

A cropping and wool grower, Mr Klemke invested in a feed mixer during the last drought to keep his Merino flock alive while using home-grown feed, including straw, barley and silage.

He was concerned about the constant danger presented to the operator when climbing on the mixer to cut strings off bales.

Mr Klemke was prompted to design and make the Safe-Cut with the assistance of former farm employee Nathan Holmes, a knife and string holder mounted on the forks of a loader, to increase worker safety and feed-out efficiency.

“Originally we had to have the bale over the feed cart and operators climbed up to cut strings, which was dangerous,” he said.

“Sometimes we even had to climb into the machine to get the strings out when they had fallen into the machine. I thought there must be an easier way.

“I had ideas of holding the strings on the loader, lifting the bale up and driving across the mixer while a knife cuts all the strings releasing the bale into the feeder yet retaining the strings on a string holder while the mixer backs away.

“It meant no-one was climbing up in the machine. During the drought, we made a knife and mounted it on the loader. With the Safe-Cut, workers are not near any knives and don’t have to climb on any machines.

“I have seen dairy and beef farmers struggle with cutting strings on bales on the side of mixers.”

Mr Klemke is not interested in commercialising the product but would be happy to speak with any interested manufacturers.

“I’m surprised no-one has designed something similar. If someone wants to run with it, that’s good,” he said.

“This the first time I’ve ever won anything and was reluctant to enter, thinking it wasn’t worth it, but my wife encouraged me.

“I was very surprised to receive this award — obviously other people can see the benefits of the safety features.

“I would love to see a lot of mixers with this design and giving producers an option of a safer way of feeding out.”