Farm Ireland

Sunday 24 June 2018

From fertility hats to products that halt farm deaths - the best innovative products at the Ploughing revealed

Products promising to change the farming world

Dr Barbara Murphy, who developed the Bovine Light Mask
Dr Barbara Murphy, who developed the Bovine Light Mask
Ryan Mooney from DamEasy
The Bovine Light Mask
Jack Walsh from Hantec Engineering
Dympna Fergus from Little Pal
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Hats to increase fertility, security systems to halt farm thefts and new machinery to stop farm deaths were just some of the ideas in the innovation tent at the Ploughing Championships in Tullamore.

Dozens of entrepreneurial farmers set up stalls at the innovation centre and showcased their products that would change the farming world.

Fertility hats

One company stole the show, Equilume, who developed a hat with light technology that increases fertility in horses and lactation in cows. 

Dr Barbara Murphy, who developed the Bovine Light Mask, was the winner of the Agricultural Technology Innovation Award for an Established Company at the Ploughing Championships.

The Bovine Light Mask

"We started out by developing blue light technology for horses. We found that light in one eye was as good as bright lights in both eyes in horses. That means you can get all the benefits of light treatment which brings the mare's fertility season forward and improves gestation rates," Dr Murphy said.

The Equilume Light Mask aimed at horses, retails at €350 and can be attached to a horse's head and has a blue light around one eye.

"The hat allows horses to stay outdoors and the mare gets the benefits of light which allows her fertility cycle to be in line with industry needs. Conception rates are much higher when animals are on our blue light hats."

The company is also testing the product on cows to see if it increases lactation rates.

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"We found that light therapy was also very important for lactation in cows. In intensive zero grazing indoor systems, lights are left on for 16 to 18 hours a day to suppress a hormone called melatonin which allows growth hormones to increase and so cows will lactate more naturally."

The company then used this information to develop a special blue light for cows that would replace the old indoor light system. This mask is called the Bovine Light Mask and is yet to go on the market. This mask is expected to retail for €100.

"We're nearly finished our first trial in our lactation study and the data from the first 12 weeks of lactation reveal that cows show a nine per cent increase in milk when wearing our light mask."

The company are working on the hat for cows to further increase the production.

"The hat means that animals can be outdoors and they don't have to be housed under lighting inside. They can be outside and get the amount of light that they need from the hat."

Farm death prevention

Dympna Fergus from Little Pal, developed a product that helps keep children safe on farms.

Dympna Fergus from Little Pal

"I'm married to a farmer and we have small kids, so for me this is really important," Ms Fergus said.

"Little Pal is a safety alert system. It's basically a unit in your tractor or jeep or machine that picks up the person or child on the farm that you're trying to protect. The unit is half the size of a smart phone and has a light and an audio beeping noise that tells you that something is approaching here.

"The set distance is 50 metres and that can be reduced down to your needs. The person would have a wristband or belt that has a trigger in it that picks up the person. We're hoping to bring this product to the market next year and it will be on a subscription base of €20 a month. 

"There's no other product like this in the market. We're hoping it will reduce farm fatalities especially with children."

Farm theft prevention

Jack Walsh from Hantec Engineering developed a product to stop farm theft.

Jack Walsh from Hantec Engineering

Mr Walsh said that their product is much needed in rural Ireland as 66 per cent of farmers are victims of crime.

"We specialise in farm security. We employ a range of different censors and these are located in and around your yard. They only pick up human beings so they don't false trip."

For €1,800, Hantec Engineering provide sensors, flood lights and a control system. 

"If a fella comes walking into your yard, immediately the sensors will pick up on him and the flood lights will come on, an alarm will sound and it will ring your mobile. Our security system removes the opportunity for darkness and silence which allows a thief to come into your yard."

Mr Walsh added that this security system is different to most CCTV systems as they are passive.

"CCTV systems don't do anything. They just look and record someone stealing your property. This actively reacts and removes the opportunity for a theft."

Flooding barriers

Following mass flooding in Donegal, Ryan Mooney from DamEasy, said that his flood barrier can protect homes.

Ryan Mooney from DamEasy

"Our principle product is a flood barrier. The barrier opens up from 780 milimetres to 1.1 metres. It fits most front doors," said Mr Mooney.

The product requires no fixtures or sealings and operates as it is.

"It's flexible and can be used in any doors. We also provide vent covers. Our products can prevent houses from flooding. We can protect your home."

The DamEasy barrier retails at €599.

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