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Four tools to tap into on‑farm resilience

03 June 2021

Here’s four ways producers can use the latest digital technology and data‑driven products to make data‑backed decisions on‑farm:

1. Monitor water levels remotely

Farmo’s Water Rat Sensor provides an innovative way to remotely monitor water supplies, reducing the time and expense spent manually checking tanks and troughs.

The Water Rat is a floating tank and trough water sensor that tilts over when water levels run low, sending an alert to the producer’s phone or computer to inform them of low water supplies.

The unique floating design of the Water Rat means it doesn’t require permanent installation in the water supply – it can just be placed on top of water.

As the sensor isn’t fixed to the trough or tank, it’s not affected if nudged or moved around by livestock and can be rotated between different troughs or tanks.

2. Assess pastures from the sky

Cibo Labs’ PastureKey service is a forage budgeting tool that analyses 10 metre resolution satellite imagery against producer observations of total standing dry matter (TSDM) to deliver within-paddock estimates of pasture biomass in kg/ha to producers via a mobile app.

PastureKey provides objective estimates of feed-on-offer for each paddock, so producers can make informed decisions about seasonal stocking rates.

The PastureKey service can be accessed through the PastureKey mobile app, which also provides information about pastures and land condition.

3. Keep an eye on electric fences

The OutcomeX electric fence monitoring sensor allows producers to remotely monitor voltage levels of electric fences on-farm, reducing time and expense spent manually checking fences.

Once installed on an electric fence, the OutcomeX sensor sends voltage readings back to the system’s Farmdeck dashboard, so producers can check fence voltage levels in real time from their smartphone, tablet or computer.

If the sensor detects an unusual voltage reading from the fence, it sends a warning notification via email and SMS.

Multiple sensors can be used along the same fence line to monitor different sections, so producers can check the section which has recorded a fault rather than having to inspect the entire fence.

OutcomeX’s electric fence monitor in action.

4. Optimise carcase performance

The CattleAssess3D system aims to provide assessments of hip height, fat, muscle and therefore body condition of live cattle in real time up to 100 days before slaughter, to enable producers and feedlots to make informed decisions to optimise carcase performance and profitability.

By combining the results of live cattle assessments made using three-dimensional camera technology with nutritional and genetic information provided by an in-built decision support tool, CattleAssess3D may allow producers and feedlots to make objective predictions of:

  • P8 fat
  • carcase weight
  • lean meat yield percentage (LMY%).

The final CattleAssess3D product will be the result of extensive research co-funded by MLA and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, in partnership with the University of Technology Sydney. The product’s development is ongoing and additional assessment capabilities may be integrated into the system following further testing.

Technology on show

The above mentioned digital technology and data‑driven products were on display for producers to explore at MLA’s digital farm during Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton.

The digital farm – an extension of MLA’s redefining resilience showcase – was part of the AgTech and Innovation Hub and featured technologies to manage water, soil and livestock, as well as asset infrastructure tools to assist with on-farm productivity and profitability.

MLA General Manager – Research, Development and Adoption, Michael Crowley, said the hands-on approach of the digital farm gave producers the opportunity to explore the technology available to help build their businesses’ resilience.

“MLA’s digital farm illustrated the difference digital technology and data could make to production, demonstrating new tools to assist producers with decision making that may improve productivity and their bottom line,” Michael said.

“There are some really exciting opportunities emerging in the digital space for red meat producers and there’s something for everyone.”