Fantastic industrial design student work: Beta Guard by Sophie Williamson for the protection of vineyards

In New Zealand’s Awatere Valley, vineyard owners routinely lose thousands of dollars in crops to a pest known as weta. Pesticides are not an option, not only for health reasons, but because the weta pest is threatened and protected. Thus, the dominant solution is a mechanical solution: the vines are wrapped in plastic sheeting, too slippery for the bug to crawl on, and secured with staples.

The problem is that the installation, spread over hundreds or thousands of vines, is time consuming. And the plastic, being non-UV resistant, does not last more than a season.

Sophie williamson, a product design student at New Zealand University of Canterbury, investigated the problem with the Bragato Research Institute. His resulting solution, carried out as part of his final year student project, is the Beta guard:

The case is made from recycled ABS plastic and treated to resist UV rays. The foam insert, also treated for UV resistance, hugs the vine for a snug fit, while providing drainage. More importantly, the molded snap closure allows for easy, quick and tool-free installation – a major consideration when you consider that thousands of vines are in need of protection.

Each piece of plastic used in the in-place method costs (NZD) 8 cents, while Williamson’s Beta Guards cost up to 29 cents to produce. You might think that would rule out Williamson’s design, but she takes the big picture and did the math. Four Beta Guards can be installed in the time it takes for a worker (who must carry a stapler and a supply of staples) to install one of the types of plastic sheeting. much of the initial brief. In addition, the plastic sheets are single-use and become waste after one season, while the Beta Guards have an expected lifespan of ten years or more.

“With weta capable of causing 10 to 100% bud damage and crop loss, the cost of these protections is justified. During research, it was estimated that even 30% crop losses would result in potential losses of around $ 8,000. “

“The overall cost of materials and manufacturing is NZD 0.29 per unit, or as little as $ 0.26 depending on the material sources. This includes material and manufacturing costs of $ 825 to $ 900 per hectare (2,500 vines). Combined with the expected lifespan of at least 10 years, this represents a cost of $ 82.5 to $ 90 per ha per year. The existing solution costs around NZD 155 per ha per year. “

“For the minimum expected lifespan, this is an estimated saving of up to NZD 72.5 per ha. For the approximate overall area, this is a projected total saving of NZD 181,250 per year. . “

Williamson’s Beta Guard won the award for best design from the Designers Institute of New Zealand. Congratulations Williamson!


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