Managing Australian cattle stations from space
October 21, 2015 – for immediate release
A revolutionary Australian cattle technology that combines pasture monitoring from space with automatic weighing and drafting of cattle will go on full public show for the first time this month.
The groundbreaking Precision Pastoral Management Systems (PPMS) package developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation saves labour, time and money, improves livestock productivity, increases sustainability and protects vegetation and wildlife in Australia’s – and potentially the world’s – arid rangelands and savannahs.
The full package will be demonstrated at a field day at Glenflorrie Station in the Western Australia Pilbara on October 28, 2015 with field days to be held in the Northern Territory and Queensland in 2016.
Murray Grey of Glenflorrie Station says “We are really excited at the potential benefits that this R&D project looks to deliver to the pastoral industry. The ability to monitor cattle live weights in real time on such a broad scale whilst simultaneously monitoring feed on offer and make critical decisions before it impacts on the bottom line, is a game changer in my opinion.”
“We are looking forward to hosting the field day here at Glenflorrie Station and sharing our experience of using the PPMS. We have found it to be a reliable and easy to use system,” Says Murray Grey.
Research leader Sally Leigo, of the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries (NT DPIF) explains: “PPMS is an integrated package of tools and technologies that automate the management of livestock remotely, muster and draft animals automatically, report on pasture condition and availability. It reduces the pastoral workload and helps to balance livestock numbers with feed availability to avoid overgrazing.
“PPMS is a game-changer for rangelands grazing because, for the first time, it puts hard data on cattle liveweights and feed availability in the hands of the manager, while reducing costs, lifting earnings and sustaining the pastoral landscape
The technology was developed exclusively in Australia, with trials over three years on five commercial Australian cattle stations, and full support from the pastoral grazing industry. “This end user engagement ensures a product that graziers and pastoralists want and need, leading to a ready domestic market for the technology,” Ms Leigo says.
PPMS incorporates remote livestock management (automated weighing and drafting), telemetry, satellite land and pasture observation, water management and cloud-based analytics into a single, easy-to-use package. The full package is now being commercialized in Australia, and the technology and software continually updated for the latest advances.
It has major export potential to rangeland grazing industries globally, which still produce most of the world’s meat, she adds: “When we’ve described it at overseas conferences there has been a great deal of interest.”
The research team led by Sally Leigo based with the NT DPIF in Alice Springs, with staff and funding from CRC-REP, NT DPIF, Precision Pastoral Pty Ltd and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Forestry has spent the last two years validating the pasture monitoring system used in the PPMS, enabling graziers to take effective short-term stocking decisions in what used to be a highly unpredictable environment.
Two more cattle stations have recently joined the project: the Hayes’s family Undoolya Station, Alice Springs NT and the Australian Agricultural Company’s Dalgonally Station, Julia Creek Qld.
The PPMS is an online cloud-based software system that automatically draws on data from multiple providers that is customised to an individual’s station. In addition the PPMS analyses this data and presents it into a format that allow beef producers to quickly grasp the major trends in performance of their cattle and pasture.
“By researching and developing this technology on commercial cattle stations and in close consultation with the station managers and the project’s advisory committee, we aim at the end of the project to have a tool that is ready for beef producers to take up and use,” she says.
“The stations involved in the project have provided us with extremely valuable advice as to what aspects of the technology do and do not fit with the needs of their business. By using our technology these beef producers have provided invaluable feedback on how PPMS can be expanded for further benefit not only on the station but the entire beef supply chain.”
The Glenflorrie Field Day will feature a stellar line-up of leading pastoralists and expert speakers on the cattle industry of the future: http://crc-rep.com/sites/default/files/upload/glenflorrie_field_day_flyer_1.pdf
For PPMS information: http://crc-rep.com/research/enterprise-development/precision-pastoral-management-tools
For PPMS images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nintione/albums/72157632274183586
Sally Leigo, Principal Research Leader CRC-REP, +61 8 8951 8144 or 0467 770 661
Linda Cooper, Communications Manager, +61 (0)419 331 119
Distributed by SciNews.com.au