Cumberland native inducted into the Iowa Inventors Hall of Fame


November 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A Cass County native was inducted into the Iowa Inventors Hall of Fame last month, for his innovative work on John Deere’s round bailer product line for the hay and forage industries. The event honoring Henry Dennis Anstey, of Ottumwa, a native of Cumberland, was held during an induction ceremony held in Dubuque, on October 7th.

Anstey has worked with John Deere for more than 38-years. Larry Smith, retired Engineering Manager for John Deere’s Hay and Forage Group said Anstey was instrumental in introducing round bailer technology to Europe in the 1980’s. His name is on at least 60 U.S. patents and more than 230 foreign patents, most have which have found their way into the John Deere product line around the world. Several of his patent applications are still pending, as well. During his induction ceremony, Smith noted that Anstey views his purpose in life to make farmers’ lives easier, safe and productive.

Dennis Anstey’s mother, Alice, says her son’s interest in design and innovation was sparked by his late father’s work on machines around the family’s farm near Cumberland. Alice says Dennis would watch his father repair machines in an old shed. She said Dennis was always interested in farming. He graduated from the Cumberland-Massena High School in 1968, and went on to graduate from Iowa State University. His first job was with John Deere, a company he’s worked for ever since. Dennis’ brother Bob says the family is proud of the bailer machine and related accessories Dennis helped to invent, machines which many area cow-calf producers use in their day-to-day operations.

He says a lot of what Dennis invented goes back to his roots in southwest Iowa, and a desire to make machines that would work better, easier and safer, than what was in the marketplace at the time. He says the round bailer machine concept was essentially his life’s passion. That includes the pickup and belt design, and how bales are feed into the bailer. Bob says Dennis had some brilliant co-workers who helped in the design, but his influence in creating the product “was huge.”

One of the innovations he’s associated with improving, was a net wrap system for round bailers. Bob Anstey says Dennis was instrumental in making a machine and the product that would wrap the large round bails in a water resistant, yet breathable wrap that makes the harvesting process more productive. Alice Anstey says her son is happy to see the products he’s helped to design put into use by farmers around the world, but he’s not one to brag about it.

Dennis lives in Ottumwa wife his wife Belinda. The couple has five adult children.