New technology ideas from New Zealand

The 84-stall Centrus 84 Rotary milking platform, winner of the International Innovation Award at this summer’s New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays.
New technology ideas from New Zealand

Using a smartphone to detect electrical pulses in fence wires is one way of avoiding unwelcome shocks.

Fence Detective is the app developed by the Danz Zappz company in New Zealand.

It won the Vodafone Innovation Technology Award at this summer’s New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays, rated the Southern Hemisphere’s largest annual agribusiness expo.

Daniel Hall decided there must be a better way of finding out if an electric fence was live than touching it, and formed the Danz Zappz company to make the app which detects electrical pulses without contact with the electricity source.

A free Google Play demo version of Fence Detective gives you a chance to try the app five times, and to learn if your phone is compatible with the technology (it works on most Android smartphones).

New phone apps for farmers featured prominently at the Fieldays event, but the International Innovation Award went to Waikato Milking Systems for its Centrus 84 Rotary milking platform.

With 84 stalls, this rotary parlour is designed to milk several thousand cows a day in 24/7 dairy operation on the world’s biggest dairy farms.

It is is 80% lighter than previous platforms and five times stronger, due to use of composite materials such as Kevlar, instead of traditional concrete and structural steel.

A self-aligning pivot roller makes it easy to move, and composite materials make it easy to ship and install.

The first one is being shipped to a Michigan, US, farmer who milks 3,500 cows three times a day for 10% extra milk. He will use it 20-22 hours a day, all-year-round.

Smaller scale farmers may be more interested in the Bachler Steel Step which won two awards at Fieldays.

It is Siegfried Bachler’s alternative to traditional wooden stiles, which can be expensive, and will rot.

This galvanised steel stile clamps on to almost any wooden or concrete post, to create a step over a fence. It can be easily shifted to wherever it is needed, temporarily or permanently.

The Fieldays chief executive, Jon Calder, said there is a passion for creating something that will solve real problems for farmers and the ag-industry.

“All that’s needed is for the inventors to develop a corporate culture and attract vital capital input to turn their bright ideas into global commercial products.”

New Zealand is bidding to increase agri-tech exports, which the Coriolis consulting company said last year were under-performing compared with its key competitors — Israel, Ireland and the US.

These exports were worth about $1.2 billion in 2013, of which about 25% were animal health products, and 25% fencing supplies and equipment, with genetics, grass seeds and vegetables for sowing.

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