30 Nov 2022

Fieldays begins with fine weather expected for the 4-day event

11:36 am on 30 November 2022
Fieldays has begun with 1000 exhibitors at the 4-day show.

Fieldays was delayed this year due to Covid-19 restrictions. Photo: Fieldays/Supplied

The gates at Fieldays are officially open with farmers, growers, buyers, sellers and families streaming into the Mystery Creek event this morning.

It was the first time Fieldays - the largest agricultural show in the southern hemisphere - has been held at this time of the year.

It is normally held in the middle of winter but was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Crowds were met with scattered showers this morning but the weather was set to clear and remain fine for the remainder of the event which runs until Saturday.

National Fieldays Society chairman Peter Nation said a huge amount of work had gone into getting the event up and running and he was confident crowd numbers would be strong.

"I'm feeling good, I think you end up running on adrenaline trying to get things done, but Mystery Creek is looking good and we're excited to see some familiar faces."

Nation said exhibitor numbers were about 5 percent down this year with around 1000 compared to the normal 1100.

"Some companies this time of year just didn't suit and for others they're still having issues getting stock into the country so didn't want to come advertise something they don't have to sell."

But he said all the favourites were still on show - with the classic excavator and fencing competitions back.

New electric kiwifruit bin on show

A new electronic fruit bin was just one of many new tech developments on show.

Staff picking kiwifruit usually carry a bag that when full, can weigh up to 25 kilograms.

That was why Waikato University and Zespri collaborated to invent something to make the job easier with the new e-Bin.

University of Waikato Engineering lecturer Nick Pickering said instead of each individual having to carry around a bag, a group of four pickers walk alongside the e-Bin, which was on wheels.

"As each kiwifruit is picked, it is dropped into a fruit catcher on the e-Bin. A net cushions and secures the fruit, before it rolls down and comes to rest in the main bin.

"The industry is suffering serious labour shortages especially when it comes to picking kiwifruit, so we've come up with this solution that can enable more people to do the job of picking kiwifruit."

Pickering said the e-Bin had been put to the test, first with 3D printed fruit and then out in the field with researchers looking at a number of factors including productivity and fruit damage.

"The results are promising in terms of the e-Bin's ability to reduce fatigue and safely operate in an orchard environment.

"It's a real basic concept and it links the desirability, financial feasibility and practicality in a very simple solution really - as all we have done is removed the weight."

He said the e-Bin will be validated in trial work this coming season and would likely be commercialised soon after.

The design is one of the university's three innovations offering high-tech solutions to the horticultural industry entered in the Fieldays Innovation Awards Prototype category.

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