Students float winning idea at Fieldays

Students float winning idea at Fieldays ‘Bobble Trough’ – winners of the 2019 Fieldays Innovations Young Innovator of the Year Award. L-R: Pearl Lovell, Lucy Gray, Jana Stokes, Abby Bartels and Cate Wilson.

14 June 2019

A solution for combatting dirty water in animal troughs has won a group of St Paul’s students the title of ‘Young Innovator of the Year’ at the 2019 New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays.

Year 13 students Jana Stokes, Cate Wilson, Pearl Lovell, Abby Bartels and Lucy Gray designed ‘Bobble Trough’, a floating electrolysis unit that releases small amounts of copper ions to prevent the growth of algae and other microorganisms in troughs.

When coming up with the product, the girls were considering what problems occur on farms. “Water quality is an ongoing issue and a couple of us have horses, so we know how hard it is to keep troughs clean,” says Jana.

Bobble Tough is a 24/7 fully automated unit that can link to your phone. “Using the app, farmers can monitor the copper levels ensuing they are good and maximised in the trough, and it allows them to move a unit from one trough to another,” she says.

The group developed the product in one of their Agribusiness classes at St Paul’s and have been exhibiting it in the Innovation Centre at Fieldays this week. They received the award as part of the Fieldays Innovations Awards, which were announced yesterday morning.

Judges were impressed with their development process, their use of external expertise, their understanding of IP and of course, their solution. Presented to them by Peter Nation, CEO of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, the students received a trophy and $1000 cash.

“Here at Fieldays we have already had plenty of interest in our product, so we hope to reinvest the prize money into our company to bring our product into the market and help solve this problem,” says Jana.

Two other groups of St Paul’s students were also finalists in the awards. One group devised a custom-built gate attachment for calf trailers that prevents them from escaping when being unloaded. The other showcased an aluminium divider designed to train and assist calves while feeding on a calfateria.

The Agribusiness programme was pioneered by St Paul’s in collaboration with Dairy NZ, Beef + Lamb NZ and a number of key industry leaders. It is currently being rolled out progressively to schools throughout the country and provides students with the opportunity to learn more about the primary industries.

For more information about the 2019 Fieldays Innovation Awards, click here