Dairy Australia has been successful in obtaining a Commonwealth Government grant for the development of virtual herding technology.
The grant announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, will fund research into managing individual grazing animals and better matching their feeding requirements with the availability of feed.
“Dairy Australia invests in research and technology to help ensure the longer term viability of dairy farmers,” said Dairy Australia managing director, Ian Halliday. “While we are tightening our belts, with budget cuts to manage our way through very difficult times, we are committed to longer term initiatives that will benefit farmers.”
As a result of this research overall animal and pasture productivity will be improved, resulting in reduced production costs and improved farm profitability.
“The high upfront cost of developing technologies like virtual herding, which will reduce the cost of production, would not be possible without the shared contribution of farmers through the research levy and the support of the Commonwealth Government, which will fund approximately two-thirds of the project.”
Virtual herding or fencing technology will allow farms to manage both individual and small groups of animals within a herd better and will contribute to a reduction in labour required to move and draft cattle.
“This project will put Australian livestock industries at the forefront of applying advanced digital technologies,” said Mr Halliday. “Virtual fencing and herding technology has the potential to transform individual, small group and entire herd management.”
By keeping animals out of sensitive areas and managing overgrazing virtual herding will also help to improve environmental and animal welfare outcomes and give farm managers a better way to manage animal health and welfare.
The research grant is made under the Commonwealth’s Rural Research and Development for Profit program and will be conducted in partnership with other RDCs, including Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation and Australian Pork Limited.
Research providers and other partners for this project are Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, CSIRO, University of Sydney, The University of Melbourne, University of New England and Agersens Pty Ltd.
This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.