Topping Off Troughs For Cleaner Water
Cleaner water troughs and water are proving to be a simple yet highly effective technique for improving productivity and farm economics. A clever idea turned reality, is about to move from trial to commercialisation, with initial sales in both New Zealand and Australia.
TroffTop, a cover for farm troughs, was developed by Peter Bunker, who was appalled at the state of the farm drinking troughs he'd observed through many years of involvement in the rural community,
The TroffTop is a deceptively simple polyethylene cover that has secured development investment for its inventor, Peter Bunker, from two Auckland businessmen, Roly and Lionel Rogers.
The research into its design has been boosted with a grant of $85,000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology's Grants for Private Sector Research (GPSRD) scheme.
Following successful trials on 14 farms throughout the North Island, TroffTop is at commercialisation stage and Roly Rogers says it is destined for use anywhere stock drink from water troughs, or troughs in feedlots.
"It takes a relatively simple principle, a floating cover for troughs, and refines it with contours and indentations to make individual drinking compartments within the cover. The whole cover floats on the trough greatly reducing outside elements from entering the trough such as dust, dirt, fertiliser, grass, effluent spread, wildlife and wildfowl. Also, the chance of algae growth is reduced because the cover completely blocks out the sunlight," says Mr Rogers.
He says there is an element of courtship in wary stock coming to terms with covered drinking troughs, but that after the first drinking cycle they become blasé about it and actually prefer the taste and smell of the fresher, more palatable water.
Cleaner drinking water has both economic and health benefits; an outcome that Peter Bunker was quick to perceive when he noticed that farmers were not as fastidious about troughs as he had observed during the years when his father had been farming.
He began 'playing around' with ideas based on a floating cover idea and hit on the solution after three years trial and error, with input from Massey University's animal health unit.
Mr Rogers says clean and palatable water encourages animals to thrive and produce more milk. "The tests are impressive in terms of the export increase possible from a greater milk output as well as meat growth. Better conversion rates also mean a saving to the farmer in feed," he says.
TroffTop already has endorsements from on-farm trials, and in particular from horse studs, with its prototype winning an award in the 2001 Mystery Creek Field days.