Farmers are no strangers to working dogs - but they might think a cancer-sniffing German shepherd making her first public appearance at Fieldays is barking mad.
Frieda the 18-month-old prostate-cancer-detection dog will be making her debut at Fieldays, which starts on Wednesday, to help raise awareness around prostate and testicular cancer.
K9 Medical Detection in partnership with the University of Otago is running the programme which is being part funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand to train dogs to sniff out a chemical present in urine of people with prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand chief executive Graeme Woodside said the programme was expected to be rolled out in just over a year and would make testing for prostate cancer more accessible, especially for those men in rural areas who had limited access to medical centres.
It was his hope that men would eventually be able to send in a urine sample for testing.
K9 Medical Detection founder Pauline Blomfield said Frieda was still being taught by Hamilton-based trainer Peter Crocker to detect all the different cancer cells that could be present in a urine sample and then to alert the clinicians by sitting. A second pup, Levi, was also about to start training.
All the testing was carried out in a clinical setting and Frieda smelt the samples.
"She is not going to be sniffing people. Everyone thinks oh my gosh the dog comes up to me," Blomfield said.
"Being able to have a non-evasive diagnostic test for that particular disease by urine, I'm sure men would be queuing up for it rather than having a blood test or a rectal examination."
Woodside is speaking at the Village Green on Thursday afternoon to raise awareness around the disease which is diagnosed in 3000 men each year. He will be accompanied by Frieda.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand is among the 1059 exhibitors showcasing their services, products or providing advice at this year's Fieldays.
This year's 51st Fieldays has even more exhibitors than last year and has been broken up into a range of precincts including dairy, horticulture, light commercial vehicles, forestry, property, heavy equipment, tractors and fencing, outdoor apparel and rural to help visitors navigate around the site.
The popular Kitchen Theatre, Pantry Marquee, Careers and Education hub, Health and Wellbeing hub and the Agricultural Village also return to Fieldays this year. As well as Kiwis showing the ingenuity, the Innovations tent will also house some overseas exhibitors from Australia and Ireland.
In 2018, more than 130,866 people visited the four day event spread over the 114ha Mystery Creek site.
Visitors are encouraged to use electronic ticketing and can simply show the Q code on their emailed ticket at the gate or download it onto the Fieldays app.
Gumboots are again the must-wear item as there's a bit of mud underfoot due to the recent stormy weather.
WeatherWatch.co.nz head forecaster Philip Duncan said punters should dress for cloudy weather at times, and a few showers.
A sprinkling of rain is expected on Wednesday and then again on Saturday.
NZTA is also warning people using the highways in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato this week to expect delays and allow extra time due to more traffic on the roads as people head to Fieldays.
"Weather can change in a relatively short period of time at this time of year, so we urge motorists to drive to the conditions as we are expecting some rain and it also may get foggy," Waikato Journey Manager Liam Ryan said.
Passing lanes alongside Lake Karapiro will be closed in the mornings and the passing lanes will be closed in Huntly in the afternoons and evenings on all four days of Fieldays to help keep traffic flowing.