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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2016-17
FARM AUTOMATION & SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY EXPENDITURE DURING 2016/17 $735,000 project expenditure INVESTMENT FOCUS • Development of low-cost, smart sheep ear tags capable of generating maternal pedigree (mothering up), geo-location, and other behavioural information of commercial value such as wild dog and flystrike alert notifications. • Support development of virtual fencing, for precise grazing management, but also potential stock movement. • Development of platforms to enable automated pasture production assessment and its integration into farm apps such as the LTEM app. STRATEGIC TARGETS Targets for three-year period 2016/17 to 2018/19 Progress during 2016/17 1. Develop and demonstrate across sheep production systems smart sheep ear tags capable of generating maternal pedigree, automatic geo-location, and welfare alerts, and integrating with virtual fencing advances. In Progress. Demonstration of sensor tag potential for determining maternal pedigree using human grade (Actigraph) sensors under way on several commercial stud properties. A successful proof of concept trial of geo- location using low cost sensor tags designed by AWI has been completed and is now ready for maternal pedigree proof of concept trials to commence in the 2017/18 financial year using the AWI sensor tags. 2. Support development of virtual fencing, for precise grazing management, but also potential stock movement. In Progress. Support of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Rural Research and Development for Profit ‘Virtual Herding’ project continues. 3. Integrate pasture feedbase assessment technologies into digital farm management tools. Target revised. This target has been removed from the Farm Automation & Software Development program but is still of relevance to the Feedbase & Eco-credentials program. KEY RESULTS DURING 2016/17 • Advances in electronics and software development have created new opportunities for development of labour-saving devices that could transform the sheep industry, including development of smart tags for measurement of proximity and hence maternal pedigree (a key to lifting reproductive performance in Merino flocks is to successfully identify those ewes who conceive but fail to rear at their first two attempts). The purpose of the current AWI project is commercial scale demonstration of this technology to engage the Australian industry and build interest in the potential application of sensor technology. This work complements AWI investments in development of a low-cost smart tag and fast track its adoption by ram breeders to improve the rate of genetic gain in reproduction and other traits. A patent has been granted for the low power long- range hardware technology developed by AWI for the development of low cost sensor tags. • A project has been established under the Commonwealth Rural R&D for Profit programme, to undertake R&D for the implementation of virtual herding technology across the major livestock industries in Australia, with support from AWI. Virtual herding involves livestock wearing collars An AWI smart tag receiver set up at DAFWA’s Katanning site in March with AWI smart tags attached to the ewes and ram in the distance. that receive a cue (eg an audio cue) that aims to constrain animals to certain areas (for better grazing management and environmental outcomes), autonomously herd animals, or move individual or groups of animals differently to the rest of that flock. 30 REPORT OF 2016/17 OPERATIONS – SHEEP PRODUCTION
AWI Annual Report 2015-16