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Tony Smith reckons he's found a solution to a problem that has plagued farmers for years - just how do you dry the inside of wet gumboots?
Mr Smith's Windry gumboot dryer - which produces a 4km/h breeze that can dry a pair of wet gummies overnight, or a 10km/h breeze that can dry them out in two hours - was among the innovations at the 42nd National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek near Hamilton yesterday.
Mr Smith, a textile designer, admitted the piece of plastic - which fits into any boot and uses wind to evaporate moisture - was probably at the low-tech end of the Fieldays innovation competition.
It was also unlikely to be in tune with its Innovation for Future Profit theme, which has seen the likes of cellphone alerts for low water levels in cattle troughs, solar-powered gates a farmer doesn't need to leave his quad bike to open and biodegradable possum traps.
But the idea, which Mr Smith worked on with two others including former Skellerup Young Farmer of the Year Tony Blunt, is innovative and was selling well when the Herald visited his stand.
"All of these other farmers are here because they have created solutions to problems they've encountered on their farms," he said. "This probably won't have a positive effect on a farm's bottom line ... but there's nothing worse than putting your feet into wet gumboots, it's bloody awful."
Fieldays chief executive Barry Quayle said farmers were snapping up innovations and products that made work on farms easier.
He said one company introduced a new type of mobile electric fence which had completely sold out by midday yesterday.
Some 26,000 visitors attended the show's first day yesterday, and Mr Quayle said there had been an almost 50 per cent increase in overseas visitors and exhibitors at this year's event, from 40 different countries.
"New Zealand is known strongly overseas as a place that produces top commodities but we are also exporting our intellectual capabilities in how to farm successfully."
Last year's event, which followed the Waikato region's worst drought in more than 100 years, was worth $529 million to the national economy - well down from the $865 million generated in 2008.
Mr Quayle said there was a feeling of confidence among farmers that the worst of the economic recession had passed.
He believed this year's sales figures would top those of last year.
"There's an attitude out there that we've hit the bottom and we're out of it now and on the way up ... There's more of a view that farming has a bright future."
Fieldays has more than 1000 exhibitors across 1500 sites.
The organisers are expecting about 130,000 visitors before the event ends on Saturday.