Around the clock predictions using new software

Livestock producers get around the clock prediction with tech

Beef
University of New England's associate director business development and commercialisation Lu Hogan, and Ag360's CEO Steve Potts, Armidale. Photo: University of New England media

University of New England's associate director business development and commercialisation Lu Hogan, and Ag360's CEO Steve Potts, Armidale. Photo: University of New England media

Aa

Proactive decision making could be made easier using Ag360; a technology that combines traditional farm management software with forecasting functionalities to allow farmers to make more accurate and informed decisions about the future.

Aa

Imagine a world where a text message could alert you to a worm or fly risk to the sheep in your paddock, impending heat or cold stresses, or when your sheep or cattle look set to fall out of their weight parameters?

These are all potential scenarios for producers thanks to a new software program.

Ag360 is the first of its kind, combining traditional farm management software with forecasting functionalities to allow farmers to make more accurate and informed decisions about the future.

"Ag360 is unique in its ability to simplify the complex relationship between weather, pasture and livestock performance to predict the future and reduce uncertainty," Ag360 chief executive officer Steve Potts said.

The Ag360 platform is an expanded version of ASKBILL developed by the Sheep CRC, that was bequeathed to the University of New England (UNE) for future development when the CRC finished.

"The difference between a normal farm management program and Ag360 is it uses scientifically proven forecasting technology - it records the past and predicts the future," he said.

Drawing on data from the Bureau of Meterology ACCESS S global weather forecasting model, it can predict livestock and pasture performance up to six months ahead.

The BOM data is customised by Ag360 to reflect conditions within 5km of any chosen point. With this information, Ag360 can make paddock-specific forecasts for rainfall and soil moisture, pasture condition, sheep and cattle live and carcase weight, condition score and fat cover, wool growth, and stressors like blowflies, worms and extreme weather.

The decision support tool provides producers with a clear view of what is coming allowing them to manage risks or take of opportunities, and help increase efficiencies on farm to increase profits, Mr Potts said.

"ASKBILL subscribers are being invited to transition to the new platform while new producers are being offered a 21 day free trial, with service providers available to support you to optimise the benefits you get," he said.

Running a sheep and cattle operation Dan and Trish Cummins of Marandoo, Taralga, are new Ag360 users who became involved through Laura Kemmis, Productive Livestock Systems.

"Ag360 looks promising as a tool to help with on-farm decisions in the short to medium term," he said. "It marries together a number of management practices and enhances a lot of training from courses like the Lifetime Ewe Management and Prograze."

While it is not a crystal ball, he said it does "help to make on-farm decisions more proactive instead of reactive".

"Traditionally a lot of decisions are reactive decisions, especially with the drought," he said. "The models are meant to be accurate six months out so it can put you ahead of the curve a bit with decisions (like holding onto or moving stock on heading into a dry spring)."

He said the accuracy of the data entered is crucial.

Operated via a website, Ag360 can provide alerts via text or email if certain production targets are likely to fall out of selected parameters. The next stage of development will include a fully functional app.

"We are investigating opportunities to develop dairy and cropping functionality, ways of giving producers easy access to carbon markets, better linkages to supply chain participants and enabling access for agricultural service providers," he said.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by