One of the most innovative companies at last week's LAMMA farm machinery show in England was MagGrow – an Irish entity that is pioneering "breakthrough" technology for tillage farmers.

Based at the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs, UCD, this company offers a retrofit product that promises major benefits for crop growers. MagGrow's patented magnetic spraying system is claimed to reduce spray drift by 80% and improve coverage by using finer droplets.

MagGrow was one of three companies being championed by Enterprise Ireland at the event.

"Enterprise Ireland is delighted to have been able to introduce some exciting new products to the huge audience at the show.

"As part of our 2017-2020 corporate strategy, we aim to ensure that Irish agri companies are well positioned to continue to grow their business and make new business contacts in the UK, particularly in the context of Brexit," said Seán Ó Ciardha, Enterprise Ireland.

As recently as December, MagGrow won a major award – from the Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA). The company already employs 35 people and is planning further recruitment over the coming months.

How does it work?

The MagGrow system is based on the principle that magnetic fields, under the right conditions, can influence the physical properties of the fluid being sprayed.

The resultant spray droplets, says the company, can then be dispersed and targeted more effectively.

The product can be fitted to new sprayers or retrofitted to existing machines.

The product package comprises three different components. The main magnet housing, which is made from cast aluminium, is fitted to the main body of the sprayer. It weighs almost 20kg. Next up is the boom arm magnet housing; it weighs just over 16kg. Lastly, there's a nozzle adaptor. It's designed to fit a standard fast-cap nozzle body.

According to MagGrow, all parts have been pressure-tested to operate up to 20 bar. The number of individual components required depends on the size of the sprayer.

A typical 24m-wide crop sprayer would require a minimum of six main magnet housings, one boom arm magnet housing per boom section and one nozzle adaptor per nozzle.

The company says its products can boost farm profitability, through chemical savings, along with reduced water, labour and energy costs.

It says the system can increase available spraying time and that it, ultimately, can increase yields.

Retrofit kits for existing sprayers

MagGrow's plan is to operate in two distinct markets. In developing countries, where the average farm size is just 1ha, and spraying is mostly done using basic knapsack sprayers, MagGrow offers 'turnkey' backpack sprayers.

These, says the company, allow smallholder farmers to reduce water and chemical application rates by 80%.

For developed markets like Ireland and Europe, where growers already use conventional boom sprayers and air-assisted units, MagGrow’s products will be sold in the form of retrofit kits.