Kiwi innovation: Jacson Cube

Launched at this year’s NZ Agricultural Fieldays®, the Jacson Cube drew in crowds keen to explore fresh ways of helping disinfect footwear. Enter our competition below to be in to win!

Rusty Knutson’s ‘dodgy back’ is partly to blame for the development of the Jacson Cube – a portable footwear hygiene unit ideal for helping prevent the spread of disease and weeds on farms and orchards.

Almost two years in development, the Jacson Cube is portable enough to take from site to site. Fully self-contained, the fold-out unit features a rotating brush and water jets for heavy cleaning, a hand brush for extra cleaning when required, and a hand-spray disinfectant applicator. The three-litre reservoir holds enough disinfectant for between 10 and 12 farm visits.


The idea was sparked when Russell (Rusty) was working inspecting livestock for export. Biosecurity awareness was an integral part of the job, but he thought he could do better than the bucket and brush he was supplied with for cleaning his boots between properties.

“I had a bit of a dodgy back so it wasn’t a particularly comfy process. It was hard to do, fiddly, time-consuming, and when finished, you were left with a dirty brush and a bucket full of the contaminated water and dirt. Because of my back, I needed something to lean on to help me get to the base of my shoes.”

The inconvenience got Rusty thinking about options, and he shared his ideas with his wife Jacqui Humm, who encouraged him to explore it further.


“We spent a few months googling and couldn’t find anything that we thought really worked, so set about designing something ourselves,” Rusty says.

With a background of working in various rural industries, including a stint as a senior policy analyst at MPI, Rusty is an animal geneticist who has travelled extensively around the world inspecting livestock and looking at farms. He grew up on a dairy farm and was involved in Holstein showing as a teenager. He was also involved with the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK.

“From that experience, I observed several things. One was how it tore communities apart because it pitted people against each other, and we’re seeing a little bit of that here with M. bovis,” Rusty says.

“Also, the fear that it induced and the fact no one was really prepared for it. So when I came into this situation of needing to make sure I was taking proper precautions myself in going from farm to farm, I wasn’t convinced the bucket and brush were the answer.”

Rusty and Jacqui’s research led them to discover that there were some units available on the market overseas but aimed at large-scale poultry and horticulture markets.

“There were heavy and not easily portable, usually made of stainless steel and had a price tag in the thousands of dollars, which is a significant investment. At the other end of the scale, there was the stick with a brush on it type thing. There was nothing in between we could find.”


With her background in marketing, Jacqui encouraged Rusty to carry out some market research, which involved interviews with a range of farmers and rural professionals.

“We learned some interesting things from that and it was before M. bovis was in the news. Myrtle Rust was a concern at that stage and our research showed that people were aware of biosecurity but not always doing the right thing or, in fact, taking any action.”

The spread of disease isn’t just limited to farmers and workers. Regular visitors to farms such as stock agents, farm consultants, insurance and bank agents, and real estate agents also needed to give thought to biosecurity.

“The reality is that biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility. In my mind, rural professionals have a role to play in changing the attitude of the industry and that’s partly where I was coming from.

“Biosecurity always has been and always will be an issue. When something like M. bovis comes along, it reinforces the importance of having systems in place.”


With help from a local engineering company (MW Designs), Rusty and Jacqui designed the early plans for their concept. Trial and error followed, with several design tweaks made before the final product was ready.

“We had multiple prototypes and the design had to solve several problems before we got it exactly right. It was quite a feat to complete the final design with all of the elements it includes and yet keep it light enough to be portable,” Rusty says.

“We recognise that cleaned and disinfected boots are just one element of an adequate biosecurity plan.

“But it’s a start that will hopefully draw attention to the fact that it is critical for everyone to take responsibility to ensure they are not spreading weeds and disease vectors on and between farms, because when they do spread, they are incredibly costly.”

For more information, visit cleanboots.co.nz.



Get your boot cleaning and disinfecting solution in place today and enter to win a Jacson Cube (valued at $549) or a PE Boot Cleaner (valued at $795). We’ve got one of each to give away.

Enter our competition online. Deadline: 17 September 2018.

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