Welsh engineer wins national award at LAMMA 2024
The idea for the Smart Slurry Pump came from ‘countless hours’ operating a tractor driven umbilical slurry pump on his family’s dairy farm in Aberystwyth, Wales. He developed a prototype as part of research towards his Masters in agricultural engineering at Harper Adams University. After graduating he took up a role as engineering and technical manager for Storth Machinery where he continued to develop the pump.
The Smart Slurry Pump is a real time telemetry system that monitors key information from a remote-controlled tractor and umbilical slurry pump, and then relays this information to the remote operator at the applicator end of the umbilical pipeline (dribble bar/trailing shoe etc). By providing more information to the remote operator of the Smart Slurry Pump, the system provides several financial and environmental benefits. These include a reduced labour requirement, better utilisation of the existing tractor fleet, increased fuel economy per m3 of slurry pumped and closer monitoring of pumping operations to prevent slurry bursts or leaks.
Ieuan said: “It is a brilliant feeling to be recognised within the industry. A lot of hard work over many years went into creating the Smart Slurry Pump, but the journey has really helped me progress my career in a short space of time.
“The project started during my time at Harper Adams, where a lot of the novel work was done, and I continued to develop it at Storth Machinery, where the full vision was realised. There is still lots of work to do though. We are aiming to increase the system’s monitoring capability to reassure the user that the pump is working as intended, as well as helping them to manage fuel efficiency and observe any anomalies.”
Presenting the award, Toby Whatley, Head of Machinery and Farm Technology at Farmers Guardian commended Ieuan’s perseverance. “We were impressed by your determination in developing the Smart Slurry Pump, seeking a solution right through from your education to your start in the industry.”
Joe Grills from Great Torrington in Devon was presented with the Silver award for Grizzly Trailers. After studying precision and mechanical engineering at college and spending four years working on farms in Australia and America he returned to the UK and started a mobile welding business. He went on to design and build equipment including a hydraulic tipping bale wrap carrier and bale trailers before progressing to silage trailers too.
Joe now runs Grizzly Trailers out of a 22,000 square foot factory, does all his own CAD design work and loves taking on custom jobs. Features of his trailer include that it is an 18-tonne model with 23.3 cubic metre capacity as a grain trailer and 36.5 cubic metre capacity as a silage trailer.
Richard Kane from Co Down was given the Bronze award for his SpreadPoint range of agricultural spreaders. Richard devised the SpreadPoint range of agricultural spreading equipment after recognising that applying lime to farmland was both difficult and dangerous with existing systems. The SpreadPoint allows accurate spreading with reduced dust making it better for the environment and allows farmers to spread in all weather conditions.
He started developing the concept alongside a local contractor in 2020. The first prototype was tested from February 2021 and after a few preposition machines the SpreadPoint was officially released in late 2022. Richard’s company now employs 15 people, produces around 80 machines per year and won three awards at the National Ploughing Match in September last year.
Charlie Nicklin, Chief Executive of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) said the award showcases the entrepreneurialism among young engineers in the industry to inspire others.
“Obviously, the big benefit is giving the award winner a boost – it validates their efforts and affirms they are on the right track. Necessity is the mother of invention, and for budding agricultural engineers seeking to fix a problem they have encountered themselves can be a rewarding challenge.”
This year’s Award was sponsored by another event in the Agriconnect portfolio, the Low Carbon Agriculture Show. Agriconnect’s Olivia Midgley said: “Agriculture has enormous challenges ahead – not least the increasing need to improve sustainability and achieve net zero emissions. The development of new technologies like those created by our young engineers is helping farmers face them head on.
“We look forward to seeing how Ieuan, Joe and Richard take their innovations forward and wish them all every success in their engineering careers.”