Hay flipper

A novel device for helping farmers to dry out hay more quickly has won a Glasgow University graduate a prestigious design award.

Gavin Armstrong, 23, from Kippen, Stirlingshire, scooped the Glasgow 1999 Design Medal for his design for a swath inverter – a device for flipping over a hay crop to help dry out the damp underside. Dry hay is an essential farmyard food source for sheep and cows.

Armstrong came up with the design as part of his Product Design Engineering degree course, run in conjunction with the Glasgow School of Art.

He built a working prototype of the device, which is powered and towed by a tractor and uses a pair of parallel belts to invert the swath. The rollers are driven from one hydraulic motor and are geared so as to spin at the same speed and in opposite directions, ensuring that the touching inner two faces of the belt that perform the inversion move rearwards at the same speed.

Armstrong said: ‘Growing up on a 250-acre farm, the need to dry out hay as quickly as possible to feed to the animals was always a problem. When we were asked to create a design as part of the course project, my dad suggested I could invent something to help dry hay out.

‘It took me just under a year to design and a few months to build the working prototype. Since posting information about the design online, it has proved really popular with farmers across the world. So now I am working on making some changes to improve the design.’

Since graduating in summer 2008, Armstrong has been helping his father on the farm while looking for a job in product design.

As part of his prize he received a £1,000 travel bursary and intends to use it to visit Japan.

The Glasgow 1999 Medal was created to commemorate the UK City of Architecture and Design and is presented annually to a graduate from one of the city’s further or higher education institutions.