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Sep 17, 2021

Young Mackenzie inventors may hold answer to common farming frustration

A trio of young inventors from Mackenzie College may have solved an age-old farming problem.


Year 11 and 12 students Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, invented the Flexi Mat Frostease, a device that can be inserted into water troughs to prevent them from freezing over, as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (Yes).

The Flexi-Mat is a circular-shaped bladder constructed out of layers of outdoor grade canvas and plastic welded together.

Amy said animals can push the mat down with their nose, allowing water to come up through the milk bottle lid-sized holes.

Prototypes of the design are on several farms being tested with different animals at present, she said.

The product is already attracting attention, with farm supply companies getting in touch keen to stock the device as soon as it’s completed, she said.

All three students are studying product design as a subject, and signed up to Yes, following a visit to the class by the South Canterbury coordinators.

Amy said the scheme involves coming up with ideas that can be turned into a business while completing five different challenges to get NCEA credits.

She told her teammates about her Dad’s suggestion they do something about water troughs freezing over, and the concept developed from there.

“We had the idea [for the Frostease] pretty much as soon as we decided to solve the problem.”

“The whole point was to make it less stressful for farmers and animals”, she said.

Amy, whose family farms deer, beef cows, and provides dairy support by Lake Opuha, at Sherwood Downs, lives next door to Luke, whose family farms deer and beef cows, while Hamish’s family mainly farms sheep at Burke’s Pass.

All three know the frustration of frozen-over troughs on freezing Mackenzie mornings.

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