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Microcomputers Matched With Ag Knowhow Good News

Microcomputers Matched With Ag Knowhow Good News For Farmers

Innovative technology, marrying agricultural know-how with microcomputers, is helping a Hamilton research and development company develop a groundbreaking management tool for farmers to improve cattle breeding techniques and herd profitability.

Plade Holdings has just completed the second stage of an extended research project that has seen the development of an autonomous, efficient drug delivery system, followed by fine-tuning of its formulations.

The result is a product capable of being readily absorbed and utilised from one site within the animal's body cavity, providing what is believed to be a first in multi-drug, active-delivery systems, with the IP being held by Plade's sister company, Advanced Animal Technology.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology provided funding assistance for both projects, through Technology New Zealand; the first through the TBG scheme and more recently $100,000 was awarded through the Grants for Private Sector Research and Development (GPSRD) scheme.

The small, privately-owned company has farmer and venture capital shareholders and has developed a strong skill base specialising in the controlled delivery of specific drugs in a pre-determined regime in large animals.

Plade Managing Director, Brian Cornish, says completion of R&D for the first product will be of significant benefit to farmers around the world seeking to optimise on-farm performance from their herd breeding management programmes.

"Unlike traditional methods, which typically involve multi-site and multiple treatments to enable effective treatment, our first product - ONSETT® - is a specialised electronic delivery system that is easily placed in a cow's vagina to autonomously deliver the required treatment through the use of electronics and precision drug delivery technology," says Mr Cornish.

"ONSETT® will be the first of a number of advanced delivery systems to be developed by the company in areas where we see benefit in delivering single or multiple drug regimes to positively affect a biological function, for example in breeding".

Based on studies conducted to date in New Zealand, Mr Cornish believes ONSETT® will significantly improve farmers' current breeding results and, in particular, will have significant benefit in the management of hard-to-breed cows, which feature on most intensively managed farms throughout the world.

As well as improvements in breeding performance, ONSETT® provides farmers with a new management tool as the technology provides for a pre-planned mating of all treated animals. "On busy farms, any management tool that assists farmers to pre- plan their activities and enhances the successful breeding of their herd with certainty is of significant benefit," he says.

As part of the overall development programme, a specific focus has been to secure effective intellectual property by Advanced Animal Technology. "Despite agriculture's importance to New Zealand, it is important for products to also command application in global markets. To achieve this and to protect the research investment, our technology not only has to offer significant improvements to current practice but must be unique and therefore protectable in a very competitive marketplace," says Mr Cornish.

He says the entire project has been based on New Zealand's excellent skills and capabilities in agriculture, added to a good understanding of the global market and some old-fashioned New Zealand ingenuity.

The first commercialisation of ONSETT® is expected in 2002, followed closely by international markets.


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