At last week’s National Ploughing Championships, Neilus Murphy from Coolagown, near Fermoy, Co Cork, won the highly prestigious NPA/Toplink Innovation Award for his “GrazeMate Drover” fence opening device against competition from 32 other innovators and entrepreneurs.
Grazemate Drover is a new, easy-to-use labour saving device for farmers that allows the user to open or close an electrified barrier to a field using their mobile phone.
The device was conceived and developed by Neilus Murphy, a farmer himself, and can reduce the number of daily visits to a field by a minimum of 50%, allowing for huge time savings and greater efficiency for the farmer, particularly when a herd of cows is being returned to the farthest off field on the farm. Neilus has first-hand experience of the amount of time spent bringing the herd in for milking and returning them after milking to close the field, especially late in the evening.
Neilus approached his local LEADER group, Avondhu Blackwater Partnership (www.avondhublackwater.com) in late 2011 with his idea. It was quickly decided that the concept was highly innovative and had sufficient merit for Avondhu Blackwater Partnership to award a grant equal to 75% funding for a feasibility study.
This Feasibility Study was undertaken by PLAS Consulting Engineers (www.plas.ie) in 2012 and the results proved positive, confirming that Neilus’ invention was viable to manufacture, that it could exploit a niche in the market and critically, that a sufficient target market existed into which it could be sold.
The Avondhu Blackwater Partnership funded Feasibility Study also provided an action plan, setting out the most efficient manner in which manufacture the product and bring it to market. It also set out the financial targets which had to be adhered to in order to make the product viable.
At that stage, with the Feasibility Study providing the blueprint, the project was passed to the North Cork Enterprise Board, who were more appropriately placed to assist in establishing the manufacturing of the product. It is hoped that, once the product is established in Ireland, it will also have considerable export potential.
GrazeMate Drover has been developed to the level that a simple text message sent to a battery-powered unit opens and closes a barrier fence on demand. It does away with the time consuming requirement to follow the herd back to pasture after milking to secure them. It can also be operated using a time clock device that can be set for the regular milking times of the herd, along with other benefits, such as making buffer feeding easier, bringing cows into a shed without having to go to the paddock during bad weather, and being able open/close paddocks at will when leaving cows back in batches, such as when testing and dosing. Grazement Drover is also portable enough to be attached securely to a typical (electric) fence post and is powered by a rechargeable battery.
“Winning the NPA/Toplink Innovation Award at the National Ploughing Championships was an immense achievement for Neilus Murphy, and due recognition for the hard work and dedication which has seen him bring the Grazemate Drover product from concept to market in less than two years. Avondhu Blackwater Partnership are delighted that to have been in a position to provide support for this product at its initial stages, assisting a local entrepreneur at a critical time in the development of his small business, and as a result supporting the development of the wider rural economy”, said Avondhu Blackwater Partnership CEO Valerie Murphy this week.
The Grazemate Drover is now available to order online at www.grazemate.ie or at 087 278 8040.