Gadgets galore to explore

The annual Boerepatente Kompetisie always showcases great ideas to improve and simplify the farming experience, including devices to conquer load shedding and the dangers it brings. Joe Spencer reports.

At this year’s Boerepatente Kompetisie, energy saving and security devices were popular inventions among the entries. First prize in the category for electrical devices went to Bertus Goosen from Matlakeng, Botswana, for his solar-powered water pump. By using an inverter and reducing friction on the pump, his system pumps up to 1 800â„“/hr. Bertus also took second prize in this category for his security lamp system. This is battery-powered, charged by the mains and remote controlled. The fully charged deep-cycle battery is good for about six hours.

A portable solar-powered device won Bertus’ wife, Tanya, first prize in the ladies section. With a battery, voltage regulator, and half a dozen car-lighter-style output sockets this has serious commercial possibilities as a portable charging unit, particularly for cellphones, and to power 12V appliances such as lights or electric shavers.

The usual hands-on farming and labour-saving inventions could also be found, and in particular the ingenious hand planter by Michris Janse van Rensburg with definite commercial possibilities. There are a number of hand planters, or jab planters as they’re called, on the market, but thanks to his simple but effective design Michris will be able to sell his device at a fraction of the price of similar machines.

The secret is in the accurate placing of the seed at the optimum depth and the planter’s ability to select only one seed at a time. He called it the “Backsaver” and I am confident that thousands of small-scale maize growers will thank him in the future for saving theirs.

Another labour-saving device comes from Hennie van der Westhuizen. He says his invention can reduce the number of workers required to clean a broiler house from about 20 to only four. The self-propelled unit moves over the litter, picking it up and elevating it to a bagging off spout. A small amount of shavings may be left to sweep, but Hennie is already working on a mechanised broom system to handle this part of the job. More than 60 of these units are already in use on poultry farms.