Story: Inventions, patents and trademarks

Page 3. Farming inventions

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Sheep breeds

Scottish farmer James Little came to New Zealand in 1863 and raised English-bred sheep on Corriedale station in North Otago. He developed a Lincoln–Merino cross suitable for New Zealand’s low-rainfall conditions, and it was officially named the Corriedale in 1911. Large flocks were later established in North and South America and in Australia.

In the 1950s Massey Agricultural College researcher Geoffrey Peren crossbred the Cheviot and the Romney to produce the Perendale, a hardy animal ideal for both wool and meat production. Another agricultural scientist, F. W. Dry, discovered the gene affecting hairiness in sheep’s wool and bred an extra-hairy variety called the Drysdale, which has wool ideal for making carpets.

Murray and Board’s Vacreator

Until the 1930s New Zealand butter was often tainted with unpleasant smells. Lamont Murray and Frank Board ran a butter factory in Te Aroha, and aimed to deodorise the cream they used without affecting its flavour. In 1933 they patented a steam pasteurising process they named the Vacreator. It sold widely in the US as well as New Zealand.

Aerial topdressing

New Zealand was the first country to successfully use light aircraft for sowing seeds and distributing fertiliser. The first attempts took place in the 1930s but were halted by the Second World War. The availability of ex-military aircraft and pilots allowed aerial topdressing to expand rapidly from the late 1940s. High prices for farm produce in the 1950s and support from the public service helped New Zealand topdressing firms to maintain a technological edge over those in much larger countries.

Gallagher’s electric fence

Hamilton farmer Bill Gallagher was forced to be resourceful during the economic depression of the 1930s, and built his own tractors out of other vehicles. After a horse repeatedly scratched itself on his car, Gallagher’s brother Henry experimented with cheap and effective forms of stock control and in 1953 was awarded a patent for a ‘wire-winding reel for electric fences’. Gallagher electric fencing technology was exported worldwide, and in 2009 the company had offices in more than 30 countries.

Callender’s farm bike

The world’s first farm bike was invented in 1963 by New Plymouth farmer and keen motorcycle mechanic Johnny Callender. He was soon swamped with orders but faced difficulties expanding production. His bike used a Suzuki engine, and the Suzuki company soon built and sold their own version, making it impossible to develop Callender’s invention into a local industry.

Murdoch’s tranquilliser gun

Timaru vet and recreational hunter Colin Murdoch designed and invented the first tranquilliser gun, enabling animals to be dosed without being caught. Murdoch patented a special syringe with a plastic dart-like tail, fired from a modified pistol or rifle. His company, Paxarms, has exported this technology to more than 150 countries.

How to cite this page:

Mark Derby, 'Inventions, patents and trademarks - Farming inventions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 May 2024)

Story by Mark Derby, published 11 Mar 2010, updated 1 Feb 2015