Seventy-one entrants will be on show when the gates open at the 49th New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays at the Mystery Creek Events Centre near Hamilton.
The four-day event, which runs from 14 to 17 June, is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Last year 130,684 visitors attended from New Zealand and around the world.
One of the most popular sites for visitors is the Fieldays Innovations Centre, which showcases agricultural inventions and new applications with the potential to lead change in the rural sector.
Fieldays innovations event manager Gail Hendricks said 71 entries have been received in the Fieldays Innovation Awards. These include innovations in fencing, irrigation, pasture management and animal health. Agricultural technology would also be on show, with several app-based innovations and a virtual reality innovation, said Gail.
The theme of Fieldays 2017 is ‘leading change’ and Gail says the Fieldays Innovation Awards is at the cutting edge of what is happening in agriculture, and the future of the industry.
“Originally, the Fieldays Innovation Awards was about widgets, gadgets and devices to improve farming, and now, more and more we are seeing how science and technology is impacting agriculture,” said Gail.
This year, for the first time, organisers have accepted entries relating to genetics, animal science and chemical-based innovations. “There has been increased interest in this field recently so this year we have two new judges on board who can judge the science behind these innovations, which is really exciting,” said Gail.
The three main categories are Fieldays Prototype Award, Fieldays Launch NZ Award and Fieldays International Award.
Other awards up for grabs include Fieldays Young Inventor of the Year, Vodafone Innovation in Technology Award of the Year, Locus Research Innovation Award, the Crowe Horwath Agri Innovation Award, the Tompkins Wake IP and Commercialisation Award and the Origin Intellectual Property Award.
Judges consider things such as inventiveness, design and originality, the process of coming up with the innovation, commercial opportunities, intellectual property protection, technical viability and its benefit to New Zealand agriculture.
The winners will be announced on Thursday June 15. Gail said they will not only receive the kudos of winning the awards and any resulting publicity, but access to expert support and business advice thanks to the companies sponsoring each award.
Fieldays is partnering with Vodafone in the awards, and sponsors include Callaghan Innovation, Crowe Horwath, Enterprise Angels, Locus Research, NZFarmer, Origin IP and Tompkins Wake.
Gail said entrants get a lot of value from entering the Innovation Awards, as Fieldays provides access to a large group of potential customers and gives them a chance to do valuable market research.
Innovation Awards entrants also have exclusive access to business advisors, legal experts and product development consultants at a dedicated space in the Innovations Centre called The LAB – Powered by Locus Research. In addition, they have a chance to meet with potential investors at an invitation-only evening, Fieldays Innovations Capital sponsored by Enterprise Angels on Thursday June 15.
“The Innovations Centre is an exciting place to be at Fieldays,” she said. “People visiting will see all sorts of interesting inventions and ideas that have practical and commercial application, to help streamline work on the farm.”
For more information on the awards please visit www.fieldays.co.nz/enterinnovationcentre