Monitoring Australia’s cattle from space

By on 27 October, 2015
cattle nt australia ppms

Research Site for CRC-REP Precision Pastoral Management Tools project, Newcastle Waters NT, Photo by Sally Leigo

 

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 week. The Precision Pastoral Management Systems (PPMS) incorporates remote livestock weighing, telemetry, satellite land and pasture observation, water management and cloud-based analytics into a single, easy-to-use package.

The PPMS was 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 arid rangelands and savannahs, and internationally as the package is launched for global commercialisation.

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 by , 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.

The full package is now being commercialized in Australia, and the technology and software continually updated for the latest advances. The first public PPMS demonstration will be held 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.

 

How the PPMS works. Image: Ninti One

How the PPMS works. Image: Ninti One

 

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.

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.

For more information on PPMS visit: http://crc-rep.com/research/enterprise-development/precision-pastoral-management-tools

 

The upcoming issue of Position will have a special feature, “Precision agriculture,” which aims to cover stories such as above and will be of great interest to those working in the agriculture, forestry, mining and government agency sectors.

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