Australian research agency prototypes virtual ranch management

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Researchers are testing a program to allow cattle producers to monitor vital information about the herd without leaving home.

The Digital Homestead project by the CSIRO, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is creating the farm of the future.

The ABC reports the technology tracks livestock through GPS collars, pasture and soil sensors, walkover weighing systems and weather stations. The information provides more data than producers would gain from working in the field and assists them in making management decisions.

Using the technology to track live weight, body condition scores and feed accessibility can help producers determine when to market animals and when to add or destock the herd. According to CSIRO, the information is displayed in a dashboard tailored to fit specific needs of the end-user.

Eventually, the technology could make routine chores like checking water and grazing conditions obsolete. CSIRO research manager Ed Charmley told the ABC he hopes the technology is common for farmers within a decade.

"Producers will look at this and say 'this looks very complicated and expensive but it won't help me because I can eyeball the cattle and make a decision'," he said. "That's all true, but with what we're doing here today its application will be five or ten years down the road."

The current model is a working concept funded by the Queensland Government, CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology and James Cook University.



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