For the third year running, Lincoln University students have come away with a top prize in the Innovation Awards at the 2012 New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays.
This year it was turn of viticulture students Jody Scorer and Dave Clyne, and agriculture student Will Gard, who were awarded the James and Wells Patent Attorney Certificate Recognising Achievement for their ‘De Budder’ – a device for rubbing the buds off grape vines and fruit trees.
Traditionally a job done, quite literally, by hand, bud rubbing involves removing unwanted growth at the base and trunk of grapevines and can prove physically demanding on both hands and back.
The ‘De Budder’ uses two curled metal prongs to “mimic nature” according to co-designer Jody Scorer, by acting as a hand that follows the contours of the branch, and the whole device can be utilised from a largely upright position.
The motivation for the invention came from first-hand experience of the physical discomfort from the annual job of bud rubbing and the belief that there must be an easier way. As such, the students set about as part of their engineering class to design just such a ‘pain saving’ device.
The first concept, however, involving springs and metal clamps to grasp the vine proved unsuccessful. “There were too many things that could go wrong” said Jody Scorer. What was needed were “fewer moving parts”. As it happens, the winning design has no moving parts thereby greatly limiting the possibility of breakage.
The award is the second highest given at the New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays to entrants in the Innovation category and comes with $3,000 of intellectual property advice. The designers hope to use this prize to explore future commercial opportunities for the product.