Dean Taylor looks at Kiwis' latest inventions

Shane Hyde turned his back on conventional farming for a boss to concentrate on sustainable practices on his own property near Kaeo, Northland.

Not only is he walking the eco-friendly walk -- he's pretty good at talking about it as well.

Through his business Eco-Land Ltd, Hyde promotes a number of eco-friendly projects.


At Fieldays he brought along his newest development, the Smart Feeder, an automated feed/bait delivery system for dealing to pests.

He was also promoting Mini Bait Stations -- eco-friendly bait tags that are stapled to trees.

He says the tags are highly visible, easy to apply and can each kill up to four possums.

He often uses the bait tags for the first cull on a new area then introduces the highly effective Smart Feeder.

Mainly aimed at possums, although effective also on rats and mice, the Smart Feeder is designed to be cost and time efficient, effective and friendly on the environment.

Five years in the making, the Smart Feeder uses rotating compartments within a case.

It is run by a 9V battery and programmable controller.

The prototype was made on a 3D printer.


In a seven day process, the Smart Feeder delivers different foods for six days to lure the possums, or other pests, back to the bait station.

"Basically the first animal to find the food brings his mates back," says Hyde.

On the seventh day it delivers lethal doses of poison.

The efficiency comes from multiple kills from one station. Eight is his best in trials, and another station 25m away killed four.

Because the operator has set the cycle, they know exactly when the kills take place and can go back to the stations, harvest the possums for the fur and re-set the station.

Hyde says using other methods the value of the fur is lost.

He says it also gives the operator the chance to catch and kill the junior possums.

He says they'll hang around with their dead mother for about a day before heading back into the bush, so this method also prevents them maturing.

His research shows when used on a recommended grid pattern, two cycles clears resident possums then further cycles clear transient populations.

Toxins are easily removed and the feeder stations can be used for research and monitoring.

Hyde believes if the Smart Feeder was funded, it would be a more efficient and more environmentally friendly alternative to current methods, such as 1080 drops.