Innovative solutions to federal complaints
As a result of a need raised by producers in La Pampa, a specialist in technological connections of the Ministry of Science contacted an industrial designer from Córdoba, who devised a portable bush extractor, a development that will help improve livestock productivity in La Pampa in a sustainable and low-cost way.
The team called EXA has disruptive advantages, for it is portable, it does not use fuel and it extracts bushes and tree renewables from the root.
Since many years, the diversification of the livestock and agricultural activity of our country has been imposing strategies to use and handle natural resources in order to increase productivity and preserve the ecological and economic characteristics of the spaces that are being used. In the province of La Pampa, however, certain practices related to the handling of native forests, which degrade the lands and permit little exploitation of the pastures are still being implemented. These fields are ideal for science and technology contribution, providing innovative solutions, which notably improve the production scenario.
Víctor Breser, a natural resources and environment engineer, works as the representative of Programa Nacional de Apoyo a las Demandas Tecnológicas (PAR) at General Pico, where he works very closely to local producers with the aim of improving the situation of the native forests of said region. ’In La Pampa, lowland forests, known as caldén, prevail. The solutions available to mend this situation consist of invasive and destructive tools, such as mechanical spades and fire, which result into instant actions that do not take into consideration the future. Basically, because after three or four years, the caldén sprouts like a bush which continues blocking the light and does not leave room for the growth of pastures,’ he explained. This technique has been used for more than four decades now, which means that changing the paradigm for handling this situation is rather difficult.
After identifying and submitting the demand to the platform ‘Innovación Argentina’ (Argentine Innovation) created by the National Directorate of Technological Development and Innovation, which depends on the Under Secretariat of Policies in Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCYT), engineer Breser was hired by Ramiro Gálvez, a student who was about to graduate from Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC) and become an industrial designer. Gálvez was interested in the proposal and immediately agreed to take on the challenge of satisfying the technological demand entitled ‘Desarrollo de equipo portátil para extracción de arbustos en bosques degradados de la región del Espinal (Development of a portable equipment for bush extraction in degraded forests in the Espinal region),’ as part of his university thesis project.
‘My intention was to finish my thesis project, but, at the same time, I wanted to create a development that could be used in the future. Víctor sent me the data he had, and that was when I began doing some research,’ commented Gálvez. The team formed was named ‘EXA - Extractor de arbustos (Bush extractor),’ which has disruptive advantages compared to the rest of the answers offered in the market since it is portable, it uses no fuel and it and extracts bushes and tree renewables from the root. Besides, the invention removes fence posts, an activity which is highly necessary in systems with livestock activity.
A sustainable innovation
‘Aside from providing innovation for a certain production field, care for the environment was one of the determining factors that helped me choose this topic. We must add more ecological and social materials to the world; therefore, I have always thought of sustainability based on design,’ alleged the industrial designer. Other innovations were created in the same sense: ‘while I was doing research, I realised that this device could extract not only bushes but also posts. Thanks to the piece of advice I got from my thesis project director and from the consultant's office of Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC), I managed to complete the development.’
Galvez's technical and creative abilities, together with Breser's expertise in the field of native forests, enabled the completion of the circle sought by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of the Nation (MINCYT.) Within said circle, the technological complaints that exist in the different national production sectors may be satisfied if the various actors of the scientific and technological system relate and interact with each other.
‘In the demand, I put forward the need for a portable equipment that could be carried to the mountains, a place that cannot be reached by a tractor,’ sentenced Breser, who said that the original idea for this development was drawn from the experience of an elderly local producer: ‘We visited an elderly man in the country who used a car tire and a chain around a tractor to remove trees one at a time. This took lots of time and entailed wasting tractor fuel, which is one of the most important productive tools used in the country.’ After some practice, the member of the PAR Programme realised that the steel wire was ‘choking’ the tree on the lower part, which permitted the exertion of the appropriate amount of strength and the adequate removal of the vertical roots typical of the caldén.
This prototype was presented at the Concurso Nacional de Innovaciones (National Innovations Competition) - INNOVAR and will be part of the 2016 exhibition catalogue. Likewise, Gálvez anticipated some improvements that will enable the group to ’work to the utmost and guarantee the shelf life’ of the development. ‘The most important aspect of creating a project that would provide a massive scale benefit was the possibility of broadening horizons and seeing further into the latent solutions which already exist for these local problems. Similarly, I realised how important it is to have all the resources offered by the MINCYT, which provides us with great opportunities to develop projects through the Argentine Innovation platform,’ concluded the designer.
How to connect with new demands
Productive innovation is one of the fundamental aspects on which the MINCYT is working. In this context, the National Directorate of Technological Development and Innovation created ‘Argentine Innovation,’ ", a virtual space which main objective is to give visibility to different tools to help strengthen the links between actors in the National System of Science, Technology and Innovation. The site aims to engage and exchange of ideas and information related to technological innovation. To visit the platform and know about the tools, click here