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Off-line innovators

THEY DON'T work for major corporations or have massive R & D budgets. They don't advertise and most don't have their own Web sites. Yet their obscure ideas and inventions may be more suited to solving problems on the farm than just about anything you've ever seen. Who better, after all, to invent things for the farm than working farmers, metalworkers and carpenters? All types were present at the 2005 Inventors Congress in Redwood Falls, MN. And each shared a common vision: to use the power of invention to make their own jobs easier and then share their discoveries with the world. Here's a look at some of their innovative ideas.

Rock Picker Assist

Roger Moe, a farmer from Springfield, MN, was tired of getting in and out of his Bobcat while picking rocks out of his fields. So he invented this hydraulically powered attachment that digs up and flips the rock into the loader bucket without gouging a big hole in the field.

Moe isn't interested in selling his invention directly to farmers. However, ambitious marketers should contact Moe at 36911 200th St., Springfield, MN 56087, 507/723-5947.

Steve's Hitch

This skid-steer attachment turns any skid loader into a land-based “tugboat” for all your heavy pull-behind equipment. A World Ag Expo top-ten winner in 2005, Steve's Hitch is handy for maneuvering equipment into and out of tight spaces such as packed machine sheds. The attachment goes on the front bucket area of the loader to work with hitches, including goose neck, clevis/tongue, ball and pintle styles.

Price starts at $2,795, depending on accessories. Contact inventors Steve and Fran Gerres, Dept. FIN, Box 24, Belle Plaine, MN 56011, 612/242-6226,

Niffty Lift

This rolling jack lifts mower decks and trailer tongues in one quick motion. Inventors Harold Fratzke and Kevin Peterson say they designed the lift for jacking up zero-turn-radius mowers from the frame, not the deck, so mower owners and repair shops can make repairs without the cumbersome process of removing the mower deck. With a lifting capacity of 400 lbs., the Niffty Lift also works well for effortlessly moving two-wheel trailers, ATVs or conventional lawn tractors by attaching to the hitch hole. A safety T-bar can be lowered and secured with pin holders while the load is in the lifted position.

Price ranges from $169 to $220, depending on accessories including ball hitches and extender arms. Contact Niffty Lift, Dept. FIN, 2578 S. Hwy. 59, Marshall, MN 56258, 507/532-3605,


This heavy-duty hydraulically powered double arm bucket attaches to a skid-steer loader to improve loading, securing and unloading ungainly loads. It looks and works a bit like those grabber buckets lumber companies use to move logs. With its aggressive pivoting action, it reaches out and pulls loads in with powerful hydraulics. It would probably work nicely with fodder, hay, tight silage, rocks and, well, logs.

Price is $2,700. Contact Ken's Enterprises, Dept. FIN, 48069 192nd St., Toronto, SD 57268, 605/794-8181.


If you think the carpenter's tri-square is the handiest woodworking tool ever invented, take a look at this. Invented by longtime professional carpenters George Leigh and Jay Nelson, the RediSquare is 14 tools in one, yet fits easily in a toolbox. Some of the functions include a zero-pivot protractor for angles from 0 to 90∞, level vials for plumb and angle finding, a retractable extension arm for wider materials, mounting holes, clips and a 12-in. magnetic strip for secure mounting on many types of materials. There's even a special mounting saddle for a tape measure and ports for pens, pencils and screwdrivers.

Price: $49.95. Contact AllRedi Tools Co., Dept. FIN, 1000 S. Gordon Dr., Sioux Falls, SD 57110, 605/310-5921.


Many farmers who visited the 2005 Inventors Congress immediately recognized the value of this product, commenting that they have had trouble with corn stubble plucking out the stay pin that's supposed to keep conventional drawbar pins secure. The farmer-inventor, Kenneth Harwick, said he has experienced these same troubles for years, occasionally losing equipment on the road or in the field when the standard pin bounced out. He solved the problem by inventing the Hitchpinplus, which secures a locking bar from the top rather than the bottom. A second version of his invention also allows use of a padlock to prevent equipment theft.

The Hitchpinplus and Hitchpinplus II both work with a D-pin hitch up to 1⅛ in. in diameter. Both sell for $10 and are available in green, red or black. Contact Kenneth Harwick, Dept. FIN, 724 7th Ave., Madison, MN 56256, 320/598-3268.

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