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Farming is a dangerous business. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2010 the injury rate for agricultural workers was 4.8 per 100 workers compared to 3.8 for all workers. With the ag injury rate more than 20% higher than the rate for all workers, devices that keep farmers out of harm's way are a welcome addition to any operation.
“One of the most dangerous places to be is standing between the tractor and the implement,” says Harold Fratzke, Cottonwood, Minnesota. “Because somehow the person that's behind the tractor has to raise the implement hitch to line up with the tractor drawbar. What the tractor driver has to do is back up, being careful not to injure the person who is lining up the two.”
If you don't have someone to help you position the pair to make the connection, you waste valuable time jumping in and out of the tractor.
“As you maneuver the tractor hitch to align with the implement hitch, it can quickly become a process that involves getting in and out of the tractor several times to check the alignment,” explains Fratzke. “And when they are aligned, they may not be on the same level. You have to either find something to prop up the implement hitch, or you have to have someone hold it up while you back the tractor into it, and that involves risking fingers or a life.”
For decades, the farmer and inventor has been developing ideas to make life on and off the farm a bit easier and safer. His latest innovation, which was developed with his son, Kent, (shown above) adds to his growing list.
Father and son collaborate
The pair developed the H&K Quick Coupler tractor drawbar. “Tractors have been built for over 100 years,” Fratzke says, “and we're still hooking them up the same old way. What happens if your foot slips off the clutch or the clutch is jumpy? Our invention gets away from all that.”
The H&K Quick Coupler is a telescoping drawbar hitch that pulls out when a drawbar pin is released. Just pull up within a reasonable distance of the implement, get out, and pull the drawbar out to the implement hitch. Then get in the tractor and back it up until the drawbar locks into place.
“That's one trip out of the tractor cab and no need for a helper while backing up,” notes Fratzke.
The Fratzkes are in the process of finding a manufacturer to produce their product. Although a price has not yet been set, Fratzke anticipates the cost to be between $200 to $300.
Harold Fratzke | 507/423-6341