Genetics

New project promises more sheep and beef data dollars

Sheep Central, October 28, 2015
Sheep CRC chief executive officer James Rowe

Sheep CRC chief executive officer James Rowe.

IMPROVED data management for Australian sheep and beef producers should result from a project that received $490,000 in Federal Government funding today.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce said the Data-to-Decision-to-Dollars project aimed to develop a cloud-based data management platform that would vastly improve the collection and use of sheep-related data.

“While this trial will focus on sheep, benefits should also flow through to other livestock industries, particularly for cattle,” he said.

The Coalition Government is providing $490,000 to the University of New England (UNE) as part of an almost $1 million project to develop a new sheep data management system in partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC).

Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said the project aimed to facilitate machine-to-machine transfer and smart analysis of large amounts of data, so the information can be effectively used and apply in productive and practical ways.

An automated system that integrates data capture, storage, sharing and analysis would underpin more efficient production systems, improved animal wellbeing and smarter marketing, he said.

“There are a number of technologies already available, such as semi-automated measurement systems and eID, that are limited in their uptake due to the lack of integration with other operating systems and the difficulty in getting the most value out of the data,” Professor Rowe said.

Head of UNE’s School of Environmental & Rural Science Professor Iain Young said the university is at the forefront of developing the best technologies for agribusiness.

“This new money will allow us to develop state-of-the-art on-farm and in-Cloud technology for the nation’s sheep farmers.”

Mr Joyce said the project will facilitate better on-farm decision-making and contribute to better care of the flock, improved productivity and faster genetic gain which will drive better profits back to the farmgate.

“UNE has world class agri-research facilities, including the Kirby SMART Farm, and the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre will also lend their expertise as a project partner.

“This project will build on the success of the National Information Nucleus Program and Meat and Livestock Australia’s Genomic Resource Flock, both based at the UNE Kirby farm,” he said.

“We know that farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years for each dollar the government invests in agricultural research and development (R&D)—so it’s a solid return on investment for both government and industry.”

The investment is in addition to the $200 million the government has committed to the Rural R&D for Profit Programme up to 2021–22, as well as the almost $50 million in matching funds we provided to industry for meat R&D in 2014–15, Mr Joyce said.

“We already provide about $700 million each year for rural R&D activities and this is another clear signal of the government’s commitment to delivering stronger profits at the farmgate.”

Source: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.

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