Results of a project funded by UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's has shown use of technology developed in Otago can save farmers in its supply chain about $19 million annually.
Yesterday, a delighted Greg Mirams, who founded Techion Group, said the findings were a "win-win" for all involved, while the involvement with the UK's second-largest supermarket chain would also put his animal parasite diagnostics company "on the map".
Techion Group and partners were awarded the research and development grant in 2014.
The project was to investigate drench resistance and the effectiveness of current parasite management programmes.
It focused on the adoption and use of Techion's FECPAK platform, which allowed for on-farm, or in-clinic parasite diagnostics to support effective parasite management.
Key findings from the project, which have just been released, showed the prevalence of drench resistance was greater than expected in the UK and New Zealand.
Undetected drench resistance cost Sainsbury's' lamb suppliers more than £10m ($19m) a year.
Using FECPAK meant some project farmers could reduce their drench use by 30 per cent-50 per cent without compromising animal performance.
Information enabled appropriate drench timing, improving animal performance/health and saving money.
Sainsbury's head of livestock Gavin Hodgson said the increasing threat of drench resistance, viability of the lamb sector and harsh climatic conditions across the UK and New Zealand, posed a significant threat to its farmers, which was why the project was embarked on.
The FEKPAK project combined "cutting edge" remote diagnostic technology and cloud computing to generate real-time data that informed producers of the level of parasite burden within their flock and how best to control it, he said.
Farmers in the project had already seen savings in terms of reduced drench usage, using more effective drench types and increased lamb output.
The technology meant farmers no longer needed to send samples from animals to a laboratory and wait for results before deciding how to treat their sheep.
The study demonstrated 37 per cent of New Zealand farmers involved in the project were using drenches which were ineffective because of previously undetected resistance.
The cost of that to each farm was estimated to be $74,974 per year in lost productivity, which equated to $19m across Sainsbury's total lamb supply chain.
Techion Group relocated to Invermay earlier this year to enable the company to upscale manufacturing and ramp the business up.
Yesterday, Mr Mirams said 2018 was shaping up to be the company's biggest year yet. It had been 25 years in the making and it was the realisation of a vision he knew was going to come.
He was introduced to a Sainsbury's staff member at the International Sheep Veterinary Congress in Rotorua in 2013 while explaining his work to some colleagues, and that was the beginning of the relationship.
He suggested Mr Mirams apply for a grant and being successful was "massive" for a small company like Techion.
It was a very difficult project to run but he was excited to come out of it and be able to say "this is what we achieved".