Growing up around horses, Jana Stokes knows just how fussy they are with water and how sensitive their stomachs can be. “So drinking water with algae in it is not too good for them.”
To solve this, the Year 13 St Paul’s Collegiate student – along with classmates Cate Wilson, Pearl Lovell, Abby Bartels and Lucy Gray – has invented Bobble Trough, which is an automated trough float that prevents algae growing in troughs.
“It’s a solar panel and self-contained unit that links up to an app,” says Jana, who was at Fieldays’ Innovation Tent with her project buddies showing visitors how it works.
Jana says once inserted into a trough, the unit’s solar panel converts a harmless electrical current into an electrode, then charges the copper electrode in the bottom department of the device.
“That is converted into small amounts of copper ions, which break the molecule of algae when it’s growing.”
Jana says the product is fully automated – you just pop it in your trough. “It doesn’t need any maintenance for 12-16 months until the copper electrode needs replacing.
“It’s fully self-contained, and you can monitor copper levels, pH levels and the hours it is turned on and off via an app on your phone.”
To prevent would-be buyers having to purchase a unit for every trough on-farm, the group has programmed the app so only one unit is required, by enabling it to follow stock paddock rotations.
Jana says having small amounts of copper in animal’s drinking troughs “makes cleaner water for them to drink and improves animal health and performance”.
The group, who began working on the project in March, won their school’s innovation competition called the Crocodile Pit, which secured them a spot at the Innovations Tent at Fieldays.
Here, they won the Young Innovator of the Year award, with the judges saying they were impressed with the group’s development process, use of external expertise, understanding of IP and their solution. Now the group is considering how they could get it to a marketable state. To follow Bobble Trough’s development, email: firstname.lastname@example.org