BIF 2019:The Latest Agri-Tech Emerging in the Australian Grazing Industries

Mark Trotter
Central Queensland University

His research is outcome, not technology driven. It is not finding shiny new tools and asking how can I use it. Rather, it is looking at problems in the industry and finding solutions, including technology, to help it.

Northern Australia is much more similar to central America that it is to the United States. Southern Australia is similar to the southern US.

There are several tools for stocking rate management, but there is a need to get good tools into these systems. There is now high spatial and temporal satellite data  that is now basically available for free. There are emerging radar satellite systems.

There's a lot of hype around "smart tags" and other agtech, but what's the actual need and value? There are three key bits of information producers would love to have from a sensor system:

  1. Location
  2. Behavior
  3. Health

Producers see lots of applications for smart tags.

Location
We went from big backpacks on cattle to neck collars which you had to retrieve the data from the device, to now we receive real-time location information.

Based on where sheep bed for the night and where they graze, they can differentially fertilize a pasture.

They are also looking at activity as a predictor of dark cutters.

Behavior
Accelerometers measure changes in gravity forces. Accelerometer data can be used to identify when an animal is standing, walking, running, or laying down. They can also use this data to estimate a fly agitation index.
They are working on detecting and quantifying:

  • bull mating
  • calving and dystocia
  • calf death
  • temperament
  • disease detection
  • grazing/ruminating behavior as an indicator of pasture quality
There is also virtual fencing systems. Examples are Agersens, Vence, Nofence, and Halter. Basically the animal wears a collar and receives a small zap to redirect it.

The amount of data is increasing to large levels, lots of data points per animals, rather than small data for paddocks. There is a website called DataMuster (https://www.datamuster.net.au/) which is intended to help cattle producers track and use individual level data.

Trotter also has school education tools to help introduce children to the use of GPS in livestock production (www.gpscows.com). 


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