On Thursday eight Year 10 boys took part in the Grow NZ Innovation Challenge at the Otago Museum. They worked in teams with students from other Dunedin school to come up with technology based solutions to four issues: animal conditioning, new product creation for NZ wool, border protection from pests & pasture damage.
All the boys acquitted themselves well with one pair, Samuel Blackwood and Ollie Young teaming up with two students from Columba College to win their Challenge. All boys developed their teamwork and presentation skills over a fast paced day of problem solving. They also got to meet with industry leaders and see the range of Science, Business and Technology career pathways available in the Primary Industries.
At the Innovation Challenge our team (composed of Ollie Young (King's), Siena and Tegan from Columba and myself) were challenged to come up with a solution to identify areas of a paddock susceptible to pugging, and a solution to limit the likelihood of damage to the pasture.
Pugging is the term used to describe damage to pasture when the ground is wet and trampled by cattle. Our solution to identify areas of land susceptible to pugging was to utilise a network of solar powered moisture sensors in a grid formation throughout the paddock to detect areas where the soil moisture level is high. These are the areas with the highest susceptibility to pugging.
Our solution to limit the likelihood of damage to the pasture followed on from this by using the sensors to communicate with wearable collars on every cow in the paddock using RFID Technology. When a sensor detects a high moisture content in the soil they notify all the cow collars in range of the sensor to begin emitting an electric fence-like buzz, causing the cows to leave the area around the sensor. This creates a virtual fence around that area of the paddock, meaning cows don't trample the wet soil causing damage.
Our team beat the other teams in our section of the competition, winning Subway Vouchers. We plan to continue to work together to enter our concept into the National Competition.