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Returning to Fieldays this year was an incredible experience; it’s always inspiring and energising to reconnect with the heart of the New Zealand’s agricultural community.

At this year’s Fieldays, we were able to catch up with familiar faces and share some exciting projects from the past year. It was also the perfect opportunity to showcase the hugely popular Bovonic Quadsense product and proudly support Fleecegrow, the Fieldays Innovation award winner for Best New Prototype.

Celebrating fibre innovations and award winners.

This year’s Fieldays showcased a number of amazing fibre-based innovations, with the three main award winners highlighting the versatility and sustainability of natural materials. A standout for us is Fleecegrow, which uses wool to create a renewable growing medium for horticulture.

As sponsors of the Prototype award, we were stoked to support the inventive spirit at Fieldays. The 2024 Prototype Prize Package, which I had the honour of presenting, included $10,000 cash from Fieldays and $5,000 worth of product design and development services from Blender Design. This support is all about helping propel innovative products from prototype to market readiness.

“The big challenge for us is commercialisation,” says Fleecegrow founder, Jacinta Penn. “Going from this very slow, clunky, half-automated machine we’ve built to something that can produce fast enough to be a commercial product. That’s our biggest challenge.”

And it’s a challenge that Blender are experts at helping to solve. Our experience with fibre processing, process innovation and machinery development will be key to support Fleecegrow on their path to market. Supporting projects like this not only demonstrates our commitment to sustainable agriculture but also shows the potential of New Zealand’s natural resources in addressing global challenges.

Fieldays Innovation award winners 2024

  • Prototype – Fleecegrow
  • Early Stage – KiwiFibre 
  • Growth & Scale – WoolAid
  • Young Innovator – Mark-It, St Peter’s School Cambridge

Bovonic – a gamechanger in AgTech.

One of the big highlights at our stand this year was Bovonic’s QuadSense device. Since it first appeared at Fieldays two years ago, QuadSense has really caught people’s attention. We’ve been busy fine-tuning its design and getting it ready for the market.

Having Bovonic on display was the perfect opportunity for us to show how we team up with innovators to bring their ideas to life. The product’s strong, simple, and affordable design really resonated with farmers, highlighting our dedication to creating solutions that work for end users. 

The display not only showed off Blender’s hands-on and effective design style, but also gave a peek behind the curtain at how we help agtech entrepreneurs tackle the challenges of product development and commercialisation. Read more about how we helped Bovonic on their product development journey here.

Hubs of Innovation.

One of the highlights of the show for me was exploring the hubs, especially the Forestry and Sustainability hubs. It was great to see so many innovative solutions all in one place, tackling a range of very important problems.

A standout was Envico’s world-first conservation technology ecosystem, including the Spitfire trap system, designed for pest control in native forestry. And let’s not forget the Agovor Govor, a powerful lightweight electric tractor designed to automate outdoor manual labour tasks for row-based growers., These are prime examples of how these hubs bring together practical innovations that make a real difference to hitting our sustainability targets.

Design with the end user in mind.

A recurring theme this year was the importance of creating solutions that truly meet the needs of customers in the agricultural sector. From the discussions and feedback, I noticed a major issue many farmers face today: dealing with a lot of devices and systems that don’t always work well together. This can make their already demanding jobs even more stressful and complicated.

The sheer number of different systems often overlap in what they do but not how they communicate, which can be both financially and mentally draining for users.

The enthusiasm from visitors to the show, many of whom were eager to share their innovative ideas with us, showed us that creativity is thriving in the agtech sector. However, good design is about more than just being innovative; it’s about making sure these innovations are actually effective and provide a positive user experience. By focusing on customer-centric solutions, we’re helping make sure technology in agriculture becomes a tool for empowerment rather than a source of frustration.

The future looks bright.

Looking ahead, we’re excited about our role in shaping a more positive, sustainable, and profitable agricultural industry. Fieldays 2024 wasn’t just about current possibilities in agriculture; it also gave us a glimpse into the future of the industry. And it’s an exciting future! 

We’re committed to driving innovation that not only advances technology but also supports a thriving agtech sector. By continuing to collaborate and push boundaries, we can help create a future where agriculture is more efficient, eco-friendly, and rewarding for everyone involved.