Robotics, a feature of Fieldays

6 June 2019

Fieldays flags

Mystery Creek comes alive this week as farmers and townies flock to the National Agricultural Fieldays. This year’s theme is ‘Cultivating Value’ and about 140,000 people are expected to attend to find out about latest developments in the agri-sector.

The University of Waikato will have its stand in the Main Pavilion. It will feature work being done by staff and students from the School of Engineering, mostly focussing on robotics.

Just back from testing in California is a prototype asparagus harvester, developed in collaboration with Robotics Plus in the Bay of Plenty and partly funded by Callaghan innovation.

The harvester will be on the Waikato University stand, and 3D printers will be on site to print asparagus spears.

log scanner web.
University of Waikato worked with Robotics Plus to research, design and produce the log scanner.

Another Robotics Plus collaboration involves a log-scanner; a robot that weighs and measures every log on every truck.

The actual scanner, now in commercial use, is too big to fit on the University of Waikato Fieldays stand, but part of the machinery will be there.

Claire and Taylor web2
Claire Voogt and Taylor Farr.

Two University of Waikato chemistry students are the recipients of this year’s Sir Don Llewellyn Fieldays scholarship.

Claire Voogt and Taylor Farr, both studying for Master of Science degrees, will split the $22,500 scholarship fifty-fifty.

They’re investigating how natural metabolites from marine algae can be used to treat pathogenic bacteria, in particular Psa, and their research is being supported by Zespri.

University of Waikato researchers work across faculties and with other organisations on projects designed to make the agri-sector more efficient and profitable.

Vic Arcus
Professor Vic Arcus.

Professor Vic Arcus is one of a team researching cattle bloat. They think one particular protein BSP30b may hold the key. Animals with a lot of the protein in their saliva are less susceptible to bloat. Working with scientists at AgResearch, Professor Arcus is now trying to find out how BSP30b manages to keep bloat at bay. The research was supported by DairyNZ.

A full report of this research can be found on the open access journal PLOS One, (Public Library of Science) with lead author Heng Zhang.

Smart shirt

Reducing danger in the forest

All too often we hear about the dangers forestry works face in their day-to-day work, and worse, the serious injuries and fatalities that occur on the job. There were five deaths in 2018.

Dr Judy Bowen and Associate Professor Annika Hinze, computer scientists at the University of Waikato and Professor Rangi Matamua from the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies are devising a technological way to keep forestry workers safer on the job. They are developing methods that, for example, will tell workers when they are becoming tired, or are dehydrated. So far a shirt with sensors, a smart shirt is looking like the best option.

Engineering honours student Dylan Exton has been charged with making a prototype shirt.

This year's National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek run Wednesday 12 June to Saturday 15 June.

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