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AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION

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Fifth-generation farmer gives industry a ‘lift’

By Jeff Bryan

Years ago, Ron Cannon found himself in a familiar quagmire, one in which he, his family and thousands of others in the agriculture industry have been in countless times before.

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Opposed to the “wing-and-a-prayer approach,” the fifth-generation farmer opted to combine his knowledge of welding and agricultural equipment to develop a solution to a decades-long issue: how to get the most out of a hay spear without additional equipment or putting costly tractors or, more important, others in harm’s way.

Hay spears have no practical mounting surface for attaching ropes, chains, cables, come-a-longs or the like to lift objects, Cannon explained. When an attachment is wrapped around the hay spear, he said, there is potential for slippage that can damage the object or equipment while creating an extremely dangerous condition for the operator and others nearby.

“It would either slip forward or slip backward and eventually slam back into the front of your tractor or slip off and could potentially fall and hurt someone,” Cannon said.

Cannon had one piece of equipment — that was pretty wide — he needed to move from one farm to another location 40 miles away to be able to unload it with another tractor with a hay spear.

“So I could unload it by myself and to keep it out of the front end of the tractor,” he explained.

So Cannon went to work, and quickly pieced together a removable mounting apparatus that could provide a secure and fixed mounting point for attachments on hay spears.

“I had to create something that would slip on there and lock that was stepped down or stepped up that would lock itself on there,” he explained. “Fortunately, the first try I got it and we just went from there.

“That’s where this idea came from. You can use it on the end of the hay spear that keeps your tractor safe and others safe.”

Each of his family members, who come from a farming background, has a specialty. After high school, he became a certified welder.

“I’m probably more into the fixing and trouble-shoot and problem solve than maybe my dad or grandfather was,” he said, noting they each had their own specialty they were better at than he is.

Putting a scale, or quantifying, how much time he’s saved since creating his invention is next to impossible.

“Because I keep it right on the floor board of the tractor or in the tool box,” Cannon said. “Having it right there, is just incredibly convenient where you don’t have to go back to the barn or other side of the field to get another attachment that most people would normally use to lift with. “

The lift can handle up to 10,000 pounds, per lift.

“The more of these you would put on if you have multiple spears,” he explained, noting there aren’t many tractors you want to lift upward of 40,000 pounds. “(The lift) isn’t going to fail; everything else will fail first. It was engineered that way.”

Most folks, Cannon said, would use a bucket. The obvious problem is the bucket that’s 5 or 6 feet wide and 2 or 3 feet deep trying to lift an item, again with a ground man that is chaining or unchaining the piece of equipment and you cannot see that person because of the bucket.

“When you have a hay spear, not only does it give you a safe and secure point, extra reach that’s even beyond what a bucket would give you,” he explained, “but it gives you the visibility and allows the operator to clearly and safely see what the ground man is doing. It’s just a better set up, and to watch out for the trailer and equipment.”

Cannon’s cousin, Carroll Meredith, was impressed with the lift when he first saw it.

“We’ve all done things, trying to pick up and move items, especially by yourself,” he said. “You can use this by yourself, it’s more complicated, but it’s a whole lot safer.”

Simply tying a knot on the end of a hay spear won’t work, if you’re by yourself, Meredith said.

“If you’re going to use it by yourself, this makes it much safer,” he added.

After creating the idea now dubbed the “CannonLift,” and using it on a regular basis, his family encouraged him to patent the device. In 2013,

Cannon went to work on securing one, and three years later, it was finally approved. A year ago, the design was approved for full-scale production. It was his in-laws who pushed him to get the patent. They had offered their help to aid in the process.

“This whole thing has been incredible learning experience,” he said about the patent process. “Taking it from an idea to set of engineered drawings to begin with to a patent attorney and how long it took to get results and answers.”

“You’re looking at the Henry Ford of this thing,” quipped Carroll, eliciting laughter from Cannon, who added, “oh shoot,” downplaying the notion of “inventor.”

“Farmer, rancher,” he said about descriptions he identifies with.

Having the patent granted was a happy day, Cannon said.

“But then it was, ‘now what?’” he said.

The “now what” is marketing his invention or finding a business partner to aid in the efforts, Cannon said.

“We’re trying to market this, trying to sell it, however, it plays out,”

Cannon said, noting this is not the end, “just the beginning.” “It takes a lot of money to get this where it is right now. Everything is in place to have this mass produced. Literally with a phone call and the right amount of money, I could have as many manufactured as I need. I just cannot keep doing the next (idea) until I get one sold. Hopefully, this right here will take off pretty quickly.”

For information about the CannonLift, email Cannon Innovation at info@cannoninnovation.com.

CannonLift Benefits

* Safe method to lift objects.

* Uses a slip-lock technology, providing a secure attachment.

* Protects equipment and personnel.

* Promotes efficiency in daily operations.

* Designed to fit most hay spear designs.

* Compact and easy to store.

* Forged from high-grade steel.

— Source: Cannon Innovations