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Beef and sheep farmer invents ‘The Third Arm’

Beef and sheep farmer, and mechanic, Philip Dickson, has designed the Third Arm that improves safety and efficiency when attaching implements to a standard tractor with 3-point linkage.

The product assists operators when putting implements on their tractors.

According to the designer, his multiple-prize-winning invention reduces the risk of putting an operator in the crush zone between the tractor and implement.

“It allows you to adjust the width of the lift arms from the safety of the cab. As I am working full-time myself, I saw a need for this on our farm.” Philip explained to That’s Farming.

“I am working away, from myself and my father, John’s farm as well. So, he used to ring me to come home to put on a fertiliser spreader, for example. I came up with this device, so he would be able to do it himself.”

The Third Arm

With this tool, the operator can adjust the tractors link arm width remotely. It is placed down on the lift arms, then the power point is plugged in, and the control unit/remote is left in the cab.

“You place it down on the lift arms; it depends whether you have the quick attach lift arms or the fixed ball lift arms.”

“If you have the quick attach lift arms, have one stabiliser locked and back in, giving you full motion of the other lift arm.”

“If you have the older type, fixed ball lift arm, it will allow you to reverse in outside the pins and pull them in on the pins from the safety of the cab.”

“The main part of it is an electric actuator that does the electronic movement in and out. It has 8 inches of electron movement and then another 6 inches of mechanical movement for different width implements, so you can narrow it or widen it.”


In 2019, at the Tullamore Show & FBD National Livestock Show, The Third Arm won first place in the agriculture, horticulture and forestry section. The Third Arm also secured a CSF investment of €50,000 from Enterprise Ireland, which has helped develop the product to date.

Later, in 2020, The Third Arm won the farm safety award for a start-up company at the virtual Enterprise Ireland Innovation Awards.

Benefits of the Third Arm

Philip highlighted various advantages of the Third Arm, including:

  • You can put the attachment on alone. You do not need multiple people;
  • Secondly, you can use it on multiple tractors;
  • It reduces the risk of somebody being in the crush zone between the tractor and implement;
  • Control of lift arms from the safety of the cab via the remote control;
  • Powered through your tractor’s 12v connection point;
  • Easy to install ‘plug and play device’;
  • It is a durable, robust device;
  • Saves time moving from cab to lift arms to align implements.
Fine-tuning product

The Moate, County Westmeath native, explained that he had been attempting to perfect this product for an extensive period, having begun making the first prototype three years ago.

“To try and get it to cover all the angles, it took me a while to get all the correct measurements. I am doing an initial production run to test the product and the market. There seems to be good interest in it.”

“Things are getting held up due to Covid-19 naturally enough, buying inputs and getting services done. AIT has assisted me through the use of innovation vouchers to fine-tune the product design.”

“We have not officially launched yet; we’ve received a lot of engagement on Facebook following a video post the official working prototype in action, but it is not actually for sale on the market yet.”

“I plan on launching The Third Arm, the end of May to early June. Furthermore, I am doing an initial production run; I could safely say they are gone already,” Philip concluded.

Further information

You can find more information about the Third Arm, on its website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  You can also join their mailing list.

Co-written by Catherina Cunnane [email protected] To share your story, email – [email protected]

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