Sponsored by: ArmaTrac

Iain and Stephen Birnie

Birnie Bale Trailer, SIB Services, Aberdeenshire

Having identified a need to improve bale transport, Aberdeenshire-based brothers Iain and Stephen Birnie decided to create a trailer which would tackle several major issues at once.

After five years of development, the resulting creation is a trailer which incorporates hydraulically-operated sides which can raise and lower, securing the loaded bales in the process. Compatible with round or square bales, it can also be used to transport seed and fertiliser bags, as well as potato boxes, for example.

As farming sons and owners of a machinery hire business, SIB Services, it soon occurred to the brothers there must be a safer, quicker and easier way to transport bales. With the ability to hydraulically ‘grip’ the bales in position, via a parallelogram linkage, the Birnie Bale Safe Trailer does not need any ropes or straps to secure loads, it also means no one has to be on or near the load to secure, and securing the load hydraulically only takes a matter of seconds.

Unique features include the ability to squeeze the load, rather than just ‘hold’ it, and vertical hydraulic side extensions allow taller loads to be transported – up the three round bales high. This vertical extension can also be flipped upside down and used to secure lower loads such as potato boxes.

Other benefits include the capacity to quickly secure half loads, a scenario often encountered when finishing off one field then travelling to the next to complete the load. Also, when unloading from one side of the trailer, the far side of the trailer can be left in a raised position to prevent loads being accidentally pushed off.

For safety, the hydraulic mechanism is held in place via pilot-operated check valves, which also allows the trailer to be unhitched, even with the hydraulic cylinders pressurised. Each side can be independently controlled, via two, double acting spool valves. A further hydraulic service is required for the vertical extensions.

Trailers are now in production, available from 7.3 to 10.4m (24 to 34 feet) long.

The judges said about Stephen and Iain: Iain and Steven demonstrated a clear effort to address key problems associated with bale transportation – namely safety, timeliness and ease. Through trial and error, the company has come up with a fine piece of well-thought-out engineering and it is clear they are looking for the next key area of development to help and fellow farmers.

On winning, Stephen and Iain said: “We are over the moon to accept this award. Our sector is always changing and we always push ourselves to look at emerging trends and develop new ideas. We try and progress our business and we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome than to walk away with this award. It’s unbelievable.”