Monitoring cattle weights from space is a ‘game-changer’

Monitoring cattle weight from space could soon become the norm as new research in Australia has allowed cattle to be monitored from the skies.

New Australian technology that allows cattle to be weighed, drafted and have their feed monitored from space has been called a ‘game-changer’ by a research leader of the project.

The technology is to go on full public display in the coming weeks.

Called ‘Precision Pastoral Management Systems (PPMS)’, the package was developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation (CRC-REP) in Australia.

The new technology is purported to save labour; time and money; improve livestock productivity; increase sustainability and protect vegetation and wildlife in Australia’s – and potentially the world’s – arid rangelands and savannahs.

One of the farms taking part in the research is Glenflorrie Station.

Spokesperson for the station, Murray Grey said that the farm is really excited at the potential benefits that this research and development 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 have found it to be a reliable and easy to use system,” Grey said.

Research leader Sally Leigo, of the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries (NT DPIF) explains that 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.

The technology means that the cattle, each wearing an electronic tag, stand on a weighing platform – which is powered by solar panels, which feeds the information through via satellite.

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.

“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,” she said.

Leigo told AFP media that she was hopeful the technology would become commercially available to cattle stations worldwide by 2017.

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.

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