Lincoln Agritech Ltd worked with Dunedin-based agricultural technology company, Techion Group, to develop a novel instrumentation platform. This platform - FECPAKG2 – identifies parasitic worm eggs for the veterinary, and potentially human, healthcare industries.
FECPAKG2 is a depth-of-field microscopy diagnostic tool that counts eggs in faecal samples. It is robust and operable in the field by non-technical users. The first prototype attracted investments from Enterprise Angel and the NZ Venture Investment Fund, as well as an Agricultural Research and Development Grant from UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s supports projects that contribute to efficient farming, and protecting and improving animal welfare on-farm. The technology is currently being trialled using lamb, both in NZ and the UK.
The diagnostic tool takes magnified digital photos of samples and processes these images for uploading online for final identification and analysis. Farmers can then determine when to drench affected sheep.
The FECPAKG2 technology includes a proprietary sample cartridge, causing egg particles to beach on a centrally mounted conical light rod. A cartridge feeding system, with customised optics, automatically positions the sample cartridge and focuses the optics to take a number of images. The images are focus stacked and stitched to form a single image. This image along with a sample form is submitted online to Techion’s laboratory for analysis and parasite identification. The cloud-based system means results can be received from, and sent to, anywhere in the world without a physical sample needing to be shipped.
Lincoln Agritech’s background in complex image processing applications, electronics design and embedded software has been key to delivering this precision instrument. Techion Group and Lincoln Agritech, with the University of Otago, Jtech and DC Ross, have worked together to develop the working prototype into a commercial product that can be mass manufactured.
FECPAKG2 has universal and international appeal. Following the successful farm application, Techion is now validating the technology in the human health market; the technology received a Grand Challenges Explorations award (part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) for the University of Otago to investigate applications in developing nations for human health.
Lincoln Agritech is a leading edge research and development company with a track record in applying new and innovative engineering and science technologies in the primary, industrial and environmental sectors.