Back to News & Events

Subscribe to MLA’s newsletters

Stay informed with the latest red meat and livestock industry news, events, research and marketing.

Sign up

Data is the new gold

04 March 2021

With her 16‑year background in research, WA sheep producer Kelly Pearce appreciates the value of data for optimising decisions and processes.

In fact, she sees data as ‘the new gold’ and is capturing information to drive profitability and sustainability in her farming business.

Kelly has a broad view of the ag‑tech landscape. Rather than drilling down to the development of individual apps and platforms, she’s zealous about facilitating processes to collect data and use it – if not immediately, then in the future.

More value from data

Kelly is identifying the areas where data could help to solve problems within her farm business, such as:

  • managing cash flow
  • optimising selling decisions for livestock and grain
  • optimising input management.

She’s working towards systems which relate the gross margins of enterprises and individual paddocks through to their farm budgets and cash flow.

“Within our farm business, we’ve gone on a journey to catch more value from our farm data and move to more proactive decision making,” Kelly said.

“Gone are the days where I’m happy to sit with a farm consultant once a year and do a retrospective business analysis – I want timely and accurate decision making during the year.”

Kelly said when it comes to crunching the numbers, a limiting factor is knowing the real costs, as farm management software often doesn’t capture budgets.

“We need ag‑tech to move beyond spreadsheets and integrate with field records, sales, revenue, cost and yield, to allow us to use our financial information better.”

Better together

Kelly took to the stage at the recent ag‑tech event evokeAG, where she advocated for producers to think more collectively around data collection, storage and ownership.

“We’ve created an informal group in WA called the ‘Digital Ag Collective’,” Kelly said.

“We want producers to push for and be reassured that their data is being managed competently.”

Kelly is keen to see the formation of a data cooperative in Australia, similar to the models which exist in the US and the Netherlands.

“I’m not about keeping my data for myself; I want it used to create solutions to our problems, but I’m conscious our farm data has other economic uses.

“We need to ensure we understand the issues around data storage, control, ownership and aggregation.”

Kelly said the livestock sector has made advances in how it’s using data to make decisions, but adoption remains an issue without demonstrated return on investment.

“Look for ways you can see how tech could benefit your business,” she said.

“If you need to be part of a ground‑truthing process, do it, but keep collecting the data.”

Lessons learned

  • Keep collecting your data – even though there’s a cost to collecting it, it will be important one day.
  • Think about data control, storage and ownership.
  • Use programs which allow you to easily extract your data.
  • Help ag‑tech developers, by all means, but don’t give away your intellectual property without some reward.