Two clever, eco-conscious farming products from Kiwi inventors


New Zealand minds are behind a new biodegradable tree guard and recyclable, lightweight batten system.

Walk Japan

Words: Nadene Hall

Who: Julia Christensen
What: Eco Gard, a biodegradable tree and plant guard
Award: 2018 Environment Canterbury Wrybill Award

Twelve-year-old Julia Christensen loves trees but isn’t fond of plastic. She had noticed tree guards, put in place to protect plants from pests, are always made from plastic.

“I was annoyed that we were planting trees to help the environment but then we were wrecking it by using plastic.”

She tested several ideas for a plant protector that would be tough and durable, protecting trees from pests like hares and rabbits, wind and spray drift, but naturally biodegrade over time.

The result is a 150mm square, 400mm high plant protector made from sustainably-grown jute cloth, held in place with bamboo stakes.

Every Eco Gard has the stakes already inserted, so it’s very simple to unroll it and place it around the tree. You can also add a jute mat to sit around the base to prevent weed growth.

Professor Jon Hickford of Lincoln University was one of the judges for Environment Canterbury’s Wrybill Award.

“Julia was concerned about the number of plastic plant protectors that end up floating down river or blown about after a plant-out where subsequent wind or heavy rain washes them away.

“We were impressed with her desire to reduce waste and pollution; a real problem solver and enthusiastic in her presentation.”


Who: Rex Munro & Darren Ross
What: Styx Easy Batten system
Award: 2016 Tru-Test Established Prototype Innovation Award, Fieldays Innovations

If you’ve ever tried to replace a batten on a wire-and-batten fence, you’ll know exactly why Rex Munro wanted to come up with something easier. It’s a time-consuming, fiddly job, even for fencing contractors with specialist equipment.

His idea was a batten that could be easily woven through fence wires, without the need for staples to hold it in place.

Plastics specialist Darren Ross helped to develop the recyclable, toxin-free, UV-resistant, lightweight, strong batten.

A patented clipping system means each batten can be secured in place, preventing it from moving. Wires can be electrified, with no insulators required.

Battens are also flexible when put under pressure by livestock, then return back to their original shape.

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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