Irish firm specialises in growing covered maize
Cold winters in the Emerald Isle caused a maize-growing innovation now used in more than 20 countries.
Irishman Sam Shine's SAMCO system - a three-in-one machine coupled with advice and support - took out the innovation award for international distinction at Fieldays on Thursday.
The creation takes care of planting and protecting maize seeds and with it he's captured 95 per cent of the Irish market for seed grown under film, he said.
"It sows the maize seed, sprays pre-emergence herbicide for weed control, then lays a thin layer of degradable film over the soil," Shine said.
"It creates a mini glasshouse, if you like, for the first six weeks of the plants' life."
Innovation judges said the system could make it possible to grow maize and other crops in previously unsuitable areas in the South Island and was likely to have a "significant impact" on productivity.
The award was a highlight of the week for Shine, whose company SAMCO Agricultural Manufacturing Ltd is one of nine to come to Fieldays with Enterprise Ireland.
SAMCO specialises in all things maize, employs 35 people and has an annual turnover of around € 11 million (NZ$17m).
The Irish company's 3-in-1 machine is exported to countries including France, Japan and Canada.
Part of the package with the machine is advice and support from the SAMCO team, based on their research programmes.
"We specialise in that crop [maize] - so the machine, the advice, the results on varieties and weed control. It's very hard for someone to do that if they're not that well involved . . . It's pretty hard for someone who just makes a machine or just supplies the seed or just supplies the herbicide."
Other SAMCO products are the Field-Lift for loosening compacted soil and a BagPress for storage.
Two Irish innovations using smart phone technology are on display at Fieldays.
They are the Grassometer monitoring system which can be strapped onto a farmer's boot or pole and the Graze Mate Drover, billed as the world's first automated portable paddock gate.