Irish Examiner - Farming
Young Scientist award for Freshgraze
Fifth-year secondary student Charlie Drumm is well on the way to commercialising his Freshgraze automated cloudcontrolled moving fence for livestock.
Winning the Teagasc award at the recent BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition helps him along with his product which has already won the ag-tech startup award and Alfie Cox perpetual award for the best start-up innovation at the 2018 Ploughing Championships. He was the technology senior individual category runner-up in the recent BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
It was when moving stripgrazing fences at his family’s beef farm in Delvin, Co Westmeath, that Charlie Drumm decided to design a solution to do the job better. Over the next three years, he developed the Freshgraze system, which is now patent protected. He will develop it further to make a highly robust and reliable solution.
Using the Freshgraze device means the cows never get a chance to walk on the fresh grass, but will always have fresh grass available.
The grass allocated can easily be changed by the farmer at any time during the day, using their smartphone The student at Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar explains how the Freshgraze device works. “Using commercially available tumble wheels, I developed an automated moving fence system that allocated fresh grass to grazing animals on a continual basis, using two robots on either side of a field, that are controlled by a cloud-based user interface, to allow for high accuracy grassland management. “The robots run along high tensile wire and are connected to each other across the field via a length of electric fencing wire. As the motor units move along the wire, it will encourage cattle to graze in preselected areas in the field, ensuring fresh grass is conof sumed, and grazed areas have time to recover and grow.” Charlie initially developed it as a labour-saving device, but believes that the biggest gain will be improved utilisation of grass.
“The machine moves about 300-400 small steps throughout the day, depending on the grass allocated by the farmer. “The cows never get a chance to walk on the fresh grass, but will always have fresh grass available.” Dr Laurence Shalloo, Teagasc, Moorepark said: “We have met with Charlie on a number of occasions and are very excited about the concept what he has developed”. The Teagasc special award is presented to the project that best demonstrates a thorough understanding of the science of agricultural or food production, or the use of science to improve technologies available to agricultural or food production.