A group of Taranaki students have been getting up close and personal with a piece of technology that detects urine patches on farm pasture - and sprays it with nitrogen inhibitor.
Taranaki Enviroschools coordinator Lauree Jones said 'Spikey' was a many-pronged machine that could be hitched on the back of a tractor.
"They run that through once the stock have been in the paddock, so they run Spikey over the paddock and wherever urine has been detected it sprays almost like a neutraliser over it and where there's no urine it doesn't spray anything, so it's very technical and a very clever little machine."
Fifty Stratford students who visited the Dairy Trust 51 hectare local research farm were fascinated with the device, Jones said.
The focus of the visit was to learn all about nitrate leaching in pastoral farming.
"And it's all around building great soils and exposing and inspiring these tamariki and rangatahi to embrace land use and understand why we need great soils for our future and our crops and the environment."
Jones said Taranaki Enviroschools' Ag + Hort (agriculture and horticulture) programme aimed to inspire tamariki through on-farm learning experiences.
Farm demonstrations were taking place at Dairy Trust Taranaki's four research farms over the next couple of months covering different topics like soil health, reducing emissions and sustainable land use options.
"We're super excited about our Ag + Hort programme this year as we have so many cool projects lined up. Our trip to the Stratford farm was a great way to kick it all off. I think everyone, myself included, left the farm that day feeling positive about the future of farming."
Dairy Trust general manager of operations Jason Rolfe said it was the trust's mission to educate and ensure the future viability of farming in Taranaki.
"A key part of our business is providing opportunities for tamariki to visit our farms and learn about the trials we are running.
"Here at Dairy Trust Taranaki, growing the next generation of farmers, scientists and rural professionals is a key strategic goal.
"The questions asked and ideas shared by the tamariki were fantastic and provided a different perspective that we often don't hear enough from."
Two more farm demonstrations and topics were scheduled for Enviroschools students at Dairy Trust's other research farms:
- 9 May at Gibson Farm: Reducing environmental impact
- 30 May at Waimate West: Regenerative farming practices
In October, Taranaki Enviroschools secured a grant of $44,100 through the LA Alexander Agricultural College Trust Board to give Taranaki students the opportunity to learn first-hand about innovative farming practices.
To learn more visit Taranaki Enviroschools.