TWO Kempsey girls still years away from finishing school have created new sensor technology that could revolutionise the livestock industry.
Ellie Prior and Freya Weismantel, students in year 7 and 8 at Kempsey High School (KHS), designed the Frellie Feeder, a sensor for a cattle feed bin that will monitor how much feed is in the bin and when it’s low will send an alert to your phone, as part of their agricultural program in school.
Their school is one of seven across Australia involved in a new agriculture program created through a partnership between AgriFutures Australia and Startup.business. The program is designed to teach the next generation of agriculture students how to overcome problems in the industry, to increase understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship in the field.
Commenced this year, the program had 22 KHS students come up with an invention to improve an aspect of the agricultural sector or remove a problem. They then pitched their ideas to a panel of judges earlier in November.
Ms Prior and Ms Weismantal were awarded first place within the school and were selected to travel to present their idea to a panel of judges at Sydney University.
“We thought the older kids had us, we didn’t expect to come first,” Ms Weismantal said.
The three judges of the in-school event, Tania Powick from Coastal Wealth Directions Kempsey, Stewart Witchard from Stewart Witchard Agricultural Contracting, and Richard O’Leary from O’Leary Partners, said the Frellie Feeder is a device that is needed in the agriculture business.
“It’s a very feasible and realistic idea. It will add value to the agriculture business and has potential to develop further,” Ms Powick said.
“They’ve designed a feed bin along with the sensor or you can buy the sensor separately, it’s a very scalable idea. Something that is simple but will solve a big problem,” Mr Witchard said.
The second placed group designed an electronic ear tag that producers would be able to enter husbandry data into and the third place individual designed a harness to hold a spray unit to release a scent of chemical to combat the wild dog problem in the sheep industry.
KHS agriculture teacher Gavin Saul said the program is all about recognising a problem in industry and developing an entrepreneurship mindset.
“One school from each state was selected to take part in the program, except the Northern Territory so there was two schools from NSW, us and Ulladulla High School,” Mr Saul said.
“Many schools ran the program as part of their year 10 ag class, but I did it differently. We did it as an after school extra curricular activity.
“I chose a handful of kids from each age group from year 7 to 12 and a cross-section of literacy and numeracy levels.”
Taking part in the final pitch-off at the University of Sydney on November 25 Ms Prior and Ms Weismantal were joined by four other groups from across Australia, excluding Ulladulla High School and the Western Australian teams.
All groups were within four points of the winners that came from Victoria.
Mr Saul said he is very proud of all of the students involved in the program who have produced great ideas.
“The students grew throughout the course of the program and gained a better understanding of the business side of agriculture,” he said.
Kempsey High students the backbone of school’s success
LAUNCHED in 2013, the Kempsey High Agriculture Students Association (KHASA) is the backbone of the school’s extra curricular agriculture program that is helping to develop the future leaders of agriculture.
Kempsey High ag teacher Gavin Saul said the KHASA is a student run management system, with year 10 students executive council members, that allows students to attend events and value-add their skill-set.
“Students are involved in all the decision making processes. They work behind the scenes, sourcing steers, communicating and networking with producers to see how it all operates,” he said. “The program is renowned for what is does, the skills developed and the respect held within it, it is the backbone of our success.”
The KHASA show team success doesn’t stop at pitching innovative ideas or presenting quality steers for competition, they recently have been winners at the Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza and Wingham Beef Week, along with local shows.
“This year as a whole team entity we have been quite successful. We always have had strengths here and there but this year its been large and consistent across many shows and events,” he said.
Mr Saul said the students are extremely dedicated and passionate to the agricultural industry.
“They push themselves and value add their skill-set to see what success can come their way,” he said.
The KHASA has a major goal in mind for the next five years; buy their own external land to run their agriculture program on.