Sensortec Wins Innovation in Agriculture Award
21 June 2006
Sensortec Wins Country’s Best Innovation in Agriculture Award
Sensortec Ltd has won the national agritech innovation award for development of the world’s first on-line somatic cell count sensor, CellSense™. The product is the world’s first online sensor for somatic cell count (SCC) in milk and also represents the world’s first online biosensor for milking systems.
Detecting SCC is the global industry standard for identifying mastitis in cows, which is a disease responsible for billions of dollars in lost revenues annually for dairy farmers worldwide.
The award given to Sensortec, called the New Zealand New Thinking Award, is sponsored by NZ Agritech and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and is presented for the country’s best innovation in agriculture.
Sensortec Ltd CEO, Dr Rod Claycomb, says the idea for the product came from discussions with over 100 New Zealand dairy farmers conducted six years ago.
“In 2000, we conducted group discussions with over 100 dairy farmers across the country, asking them for feedback on how sensors and systems could be used to improve on-farm productivity. Each of those groups told us that somatic cell count (SCC) detection was their number one need.
“In response to this need, in 2005, after five years of novel New Zealand-based research and development, Sensortec released its first flagship product - CellSense™,” explains Dr Claycomb.
Dr Claycomb says dairy farmers’ needs across the world have shaped the strategic direction of the Company and resulting product lines. Since Sensortec’s inception in 2000, the company has organised 30 farmer discussions groups in 11 countries to expressly determine sensor requirements on farm.
“To Sensortec, the New Zealand New Thinking award represents the ability to harness the strategic advantages of New Zealand innovation to develop new technologies that can be marketed globally, returning the majority of value back to New Zealand. And, we’re doing just that.
“Located at the Waikato Innovation Park in Hamilton, Sensortec is now fully into its sales growth phase and has also started up its own manufacturing facilities to produce CellSenseTM for the international marketplace,” says Dr Claycomb.
Sensortec’s award was announced at the annual New Zealand Agritech dinner on Thursday, 15 June. The dinner, associated with National Fieldays, was attended by some 400 representatives from New Zealand’s leading agritech companies along with approximately 50 international agritech buyers.
How CellSense™ Works
CellSenseTM is activated as the milking unit is attached to an individual cow. Approximately 30 seconds after the start of milk flow, a sample of the flowing milk stream is extracted and mixed with a reagent that interacts with the DNA of the somatic cells in the milk.
The amount of DNA in the milk sample changes the mixture’s thickness. This thickness is automatically measured and provides the farmer with a somatic cell count value before the cow is finished milking.
Sensortec is a New Zealand-based specialist in the development of on-farm technologies for measuring a wide range of components in milk, which can improve herd management and farm profitability. Its team of research scientists is based at Hamilton's Waikato Innovation Park.
Sensortec's research is currently concentrated in four main areas: animal health, milk quality, nutrition and fertility. It is also a joint venture partner with Dexcel Ltd, in the Greenfield Project, New Zealand’s first automatic dairy farm.