Eight Year 10 students entered the GrowingNZ Innovation Challenge earlier this year and two of them finished the day as winners.
The challenge is a regional one day competition for Year 10 students interested in technology, science or business.
It requires students to apply their subject knowledge and build a prototype solution for situations faced by the farming sector.
Annabelle Aliprantis and Samantha Woolley were part of the winning teams with students from other schools. They walked away from the event with prizes for their innovative solutions to challenges faced in farming.
Samantha says she wanted to attend the trip to learn more about the farming industry due to its significance in New Zealand.
“The challenge covered a wide range of farming topics that ranged from nanotechnology to pugging, which is where cows damage pastures by walking over them in wet weather and grass can no longer grow,” she says.
“Prior to the trip, I thought that the industry involved a mixture of gardening and animal care. I found that the industry is far more complicated and it involves really advanced technology,” she says.
Samantha and Annabelle’s teams were asked to design innovative and unusual solutions to pugging.
“There was a certain criteria we had to follow to achieve the best possible solution,” Annabelle says.
“We created a separate space in the paddock shaped as a rectangle, where cattle would go when it is wet or raining. Our design included automatic sensor gates that open when rain is detected,” she adds.
“Our winning idea was to breed grass with feeder roots by cross-breeding it with a strawberry plant. This would stop pugging from cows because grass would not die when it was stood on and feeder roots would grow grass in other places,” Samantha explains.
Samantha says she is pleased to have been given the opportunity to take part in the challenge as it was not a career she had thought of.
“Farming consists of technology, maths, design and science. Having now heard from people with jobs in the industry, I might even pursue a job in this area when I leave school.”