One of the standout entries at this year’s Innovation Arena from a farm safety perspective is the Third Arm device, which is developed by Westmeath-based company Dickson Agri Solutions.
The Third Arm works as an add-on component to the three-point linkage at the back of the tractor, allowing the driver to have full control of the link arms on the tractor via a remote control from the safety of the cab. The product is designed with two goals in mind.
The first is to help the tractor operator save time. An increasing number of farmers do the majority of the work on the farm on their own, and attaching implements to the tractor can be frustrating and time-consuming without help.
The Third Arm speeds up the process of attaching implements by eliminating the need for the tractor operator to be up and down from the cab.
Even more importantly, however, the Third Arm offers a clear safety benefit for farmers working with farm machinery.
Many farmers will often work with a family member or farm employee to help them when attaching farm implements. This creates an extremely dangerous situation on the farm as it places the human in an area between the tractor and the farm implement, which is known as the crush zone.
With someone in this crush zone, a simple human or mechanical error can result in a very serious, or even fatal, accident.
The Third Arm device allows the tractor driver to easily position the link arms of the tractor from the safety of the cab and removes the need to have anyone positioned in the crush zone.
This simple but very effective device was the brainchild of Philip Dixon, a beef and sheep farmer from Moate, Co Westmeath, who is also a trained mechanic with 13 years’ experience.
Blending his experience of farming and engineering, Dixon developed the Third Arm over a number of years.
He first showcased his invention at the National Inventions Competition at the 2019 Tullamore Show, where it was awarded first prize for best agricultural invention.
Since then, Dixon has established Dixon Agri Solutions and is working with a contract manufacturer to begin mass production of the Third Arm device.
The company secured a €50,000 investment from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Startup fund earlier this year, which will be used to bring the product to market.
Given its potential to improve farm safety and help reduce farm accidents involving machinery, the Third Arm was awarded the Safety Award for a startup company at the 2020 Innovation Arena.