Saturday, April 20, 2024

Top award for farmers’ saviour

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Clever Kiwis have come up with brilliant solutions to simple problems faced by the agricultural industry for this year’s Fieldays Innovations Awards.
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Farmers have always faced water supply issues, not least from cows who have always been too rough with trough ballcocks, snapping arms left, right and centre as they nudge them around while drinking.

And as Ric Awburn watched cows at an empty trough break an arm one evening, he thought it needed some give to withstand the rough treatment, so he put his thinking cap on and went to work.

Two years later, Springarm Products Limited developed a durable and reliable ballcock arm that is durable, reliable and easy to install. It was named the winner of the Prototype award at the 2021 Fieldays Innovations Awards.

“We call it the farmer’s little saviour,” Springarm Products Ltd director Marianne Awburn says.

The team from Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd (IGS) won the Growth and Scale award for its modular and scalable vertical farming system.

“Being engineers we thought, how can we help?”

They have created a camera with machine learning that looks out for disease, counts bunches of vines, detects missing or dying vines and anything that is wrong with the plants. It attaches to the front of a tractor.

Their innovation will help growers minimise crop loss, estimate yield to improve supply chains and replant with precision. They are currently trialing with large enterprise wineries, including Pernod Ricard Winemakers, and are looking for pilot partners for commercial deployment next season.

The Growth and Scale award was won by Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd (IGS) for its modular and scalable vertical farming system. It can generate yields of 225% compared with glasshouse production, with the potential to reduce energy usage by up to 50%, reduce chemical use, enable more efficient land-use and reduce labour costs by up to 80% versus other indoor growing environments. 

Hendricks is confident in the future of the primary industry with innovative thinkers across NZ.

“As we grapple with changing conditions globally and find ways to produce more with less, innovation is not only a top priority for businesses, it is a necessity,” she says.

“The ingenuity and cutting-edge ideas put forward at this year’s event demonstrate that the primary industry is well-positioned to solve some of the biggest challenges we’re facing.”

Fieldays were extremely proud to see another year of such a high standard of entries across all categories and are confident that these winners will positively shape and impact the primary industries landscape, as so many previous Fieldays Innovation Award winners have.

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