Slurrysafe takes top prize at the innovation awards

Dairy farmers-inventors Alan and Colette Martin of Ballyduff Upper, Co Waterford, accepted the recent Dairy Show’s innovation gold medal, while a silver medal award went to the Inspect 4 hydraulic turnover hoof paring crate entered by Ballynoe Agri Services.

Operating an 80-cow dairy farm, the Martins have young children and say installation of their Slurrysafe safety platform makes the farm a safer place to be for children.

Similar to many dairy farmers, they use an open slurry pit, and designed the platform for fitting to the concrete wall of the pit. It has an agitation point and a separate entry point for the hose pipe used to extract the slurry, built into the platform’s non-slip floor. Included in fitting where necessary is a railing to existing gate posts.

Priced at €2,950 plus Vat, this safety platform removes the risk of the farmer or slurry contractor falling in while adjusting the agitator. And it ends the danger of humans or animals falling into the pit due to a gate being left while spreading slurry (see the website).

According to the Martins, 85 per cent of fatalities with slurry have been from drowning; hence their search for a safer way to handle slurry. Their Slurysafe project has been funded under the Rural Development Programme and supported by Waterford Leader Partnership.

The annual National Dairy Show innovation award is open to products or services for dairy farmers launched in the previous 12 months.

Silver medal winners Ballynoe Agri Services have already won innovation awards for their Inspect 4 hydraulic turnover hoof paring crate. The innovative brainchild of 23-year-old Maeve O’Keeffe, it is manufactured by the O’Keeffe family’s steel and fabrication firm, Ballynoe Agri Services Ltd.

The crate restrains and hoists an animal to a convenient height for paring of all four hoofs without physical strain. Self-propelled or fixed versions make it easier for herd owners or contractors to get round to the 25-50 per cent of all dairy cows which, according to O’Keeffe, benefit from hoof paring.