We have met serial inventor Steve Dawson in the Innovations Centre before - the Oamaru man can't stay away from the New Zealand's largest agricultural event.

He says being an agricultural innovator wasn't by choice, but moving onto a rural block got his inventive mind working overtime.

And with a taste of success - Mr Dawson's either won, or been a finalist, in three major agricultural awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016 - there's no stopping him.

This year he had two inventions under his Ag-Innovators banner, the Quickie Smart Handle and FARM (Farmer's Autonomous Roving Machine).


The Quickie is a modern take on the connecting handle on an electric fence reel.
Mr Dawson says farmers divide up their paddocks for feeding with a temporary fence, electrified by connecting a low-tech insulated handle to the permanent live wire.
"Making a connection is hit and miss," he says.

"The Quickie locks on, connects first time and can't fall off," he says.

There are also three lights - green, orange and red - which indicate the wire is live and the strength of power.

It also has GPS so the farmer can accurately divide the feed, taking out the guesswork and providing accuracy for maximum output - and maximum profit.

Mr Dawson's second innovation is still in the early stages - but his prototype FARM attracted people's attention at Fieldays.

It's a rover that he plans to sell in two sizes.

The aim is for an electric, self-driving machine that can follow a pre-programmed route and collect all sorts of information.

One of the main uses will be measuring feed in paddocks - the rover will be able to accurately measure the height of grass and calculate how much feed there is.


If there isn't enough the paddock can be left.

If there is enough feed, the rover calculates how many days feed there is and puts down markers for where the feed breaks need to be.

"This is an important piece of information for today's farmer," says Mr Dawson.

Mr Dawson plans for the FARM to have cameras and use programming to look for specific conditions in stock, such as bloat, and send an alert to the farmer.

He also has an application to take care of weeds.

Mr Dawson says the rover's camera will be able to detect weeds, and the machine will have arms which can grasp the weed and give it a high-voltage shock to kill it.


He says this is an environmentally friendly way to eradicate weeds.

Both new inventions will make use of smart electronics and new technologies - including solar charging, GPS and Bluetooth connectivity.

At present Mr Dawson is concentrating on the next stage for the Quickie Smart Handle, including setting up a givealittle page to help fund the development and marketing.

And no doubt we will be talking to him again at National Fieldays 2018.