The 12th Annual Ag Innovations program at Agri-Trade had a new and exciting twist this year.

On Thursday, November 7, at the Equipment Expo at Westerner Park in Red Deer, the five finalists went head to head in a Dragon's Den format competition.

Finalists pitched their products to a panel of judges competing for a grand prize of $20,000 and a $5,000 Farmers' Choice Award selected by the audience.

This year, the top prize went to the SIWI Combi Hitch, which is an automatic hitching system which lets you switch between implements in just seconds without leaving the tractor cab.

Agri-Trade says the system connects hydraulic couplers, PTO drivelines and electrical harnessing with the push of a button, allowing implements to be connected and disconnected quickly and effortlessly.

Siwi Maskiner Sales and Marketing Director, Steen Jensen, is from Denmark where the company is based, and says he's been selling the product in Alberta since January.

"There was this need of being able to work alone as a one man operation," Jensen said, explaining the hitching system is the Company's solution to the increasing need in Europe to become more efficient amid difficulties accessing labour in the agriculture sector.

He says it's exciting to have the judges, who are professionals in the industry, pick his product.

"They know what they're talking about, and that's also why I'm very proud of having this prize."

He says the system is sold at a number of Future Ag dealers across the Province.

Meantime, Farmbucks won over the competition crowd taking home the Farmers' Choice Award with its one stop shop app designed to make checking grain prices easier.

Farmbucks Founder and CEO, Lynn Dargis, farms in Northeastern Alberta, and says their platform collects, sorts and displays all your grain bids in real time.

"We [farmers] currently search each and every website, and emails, or text messages. We're sorting through all these different things, and it is nearly impossible because everyone has a different standard grade, different protein levels," she explained. "I am just trying to simplify it."

When it comes to grain companies jumping on board with the app, Dargis says they are a little wary of change and being so transparent with prices, but she believes the app will help companies get farmers talking about their bids.

"I am so honoured to receive this because Farmers' Choice, obviously it is needed in the industry, we all know this is a problem that needs to be solved, and I am more excited to represent farmers in general."

Dargis says they first launched in February, and have since had over 1,500 user sign ups.

Ag Innovations Committee Chairman, Rod Bradshaw, was excited about the new competition format, as he says the program previously just put up a banner up for the winner on the trade show floor.

He says they came up with the competition to gain more traction.

"Farmers have readily adopted technology, and so this is just helping highlight and making people more aware of other things that they may be able to use on their farm."

Bradshaw says they had about 15 applicants for the Ag Innovations program this year, and he encourages business, and even farmers, with new ideas and innovations to apply for next year.