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Predictive sheep health app ASKBILL is music to Rhonda’s ears

by Sheep Central, 10 July 2017

Uralla musician and Sheep CRC office manager Rhonda Brooks

THE sheep industry’s new predictive app ASKBILL now has its own song, thanks to the song-writing skills of Sheep CRC office manager Rhonda Brooks.

Ms Brooks caught her co-workers off guard a week later when she arrived at an ASKBILL project meeting with song lyrics in hand.

But it may never have happened if it wasn’t for a staff member at the Sheep CRC jokingly suggesting that the app promotional campaign needed a song.

“There was passing comment at a meeting about an ASKBILL song, and I thought ‘I can do that’ and decided to give it a go,” Ms Brooks said.

“I arrived at our next team meeting fully prepared for everyone to say, ‘Oh no, we were only joking,’ but the team read the lyrics and were excited by them, and decided it was worth recording.

“The song came together quite quickly and easily because I knew the background quite well through working at the Sheep CRC on the ASKBILL project, and I knew where the inspiration for the app came from,” she said.

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Ms Brooks usually writes modern folk/indie music, but the Uralla musician felt the traditional bush ballad style was better suited to the story of ASKBILL and drew on some personal inspiration in bringing the story to life.

Check this link to a rendition of the song, performed in bush ballad-style by Coffs Harbour musician Mal Winckle https://sheepcrc.org.au/goto/ASKBILLSong

The track is proving a popular addition to the ASKBILL website, helping to capture producers’ imagination as to the possibilities on offer through the use of predictive data technologies.

Ms Brooks said her father was a shearer who into bush ballad music and poetry, and she grew up on farms listening to him reciting the likes of Banjo Paterson.

“As the ASKBILL app has been developed in Australia for people who work in the bush, it made sense to write it as an Australian bush ballad.

“There was a story to be told about how the app came about and how it can assist producers with their farm management decisions – a song is a great way to communicate this.”

ASKBILL was recently released by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) as a web-based application. It has been designed to complement producers’ knowledge with supporting analytical information about their livestock and pastures, with the predictive capabilities helping to identify opportunities and threats at a farm level from the weather, pests or disease.

The catchy song lyrics also capture the inspiration behind the app, Dr Bill McClymont’s agricultural ecosystem map, as well as its many uses in helping to understand more precisely how various factors interact to create risks and opportunities.

Song is fun way to share ASKBILL’s message

Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said the song was a fun way of sharing the message of the opportunities on offer to producers from using ASKBILL.

“The ASKBILL app is all about providing sheep producers with the critical information to help producers make farming decisions, protecting the wellbeing of their flock and maximising productivity,” Prof. Rowe said.

ASKBILL draws on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and weather forecasts to provide alerts in relation to key factors that can affect sheep production. These include the risk of flystrike, parasite infection or extreme weather events, and pasture production and feed budgets.

The predictive capabilities of ASKBILL, and the fact that is customized for individual farms and the sheep that they run, means that it can be used to complement the expertise based on experience and observation to help with management decisions, the Sheep CRC said.

ASKBILL is currently available to producers as part of a pre-commercialisation user trial, with a full commercial release of the product scheduled for November 2017. For more information visit www.askbill.com.au

ASKBILL Song Lyrics

In the sixties was a scientist who was better known as Bill

He worked out all the ecosystem management with skill

And drew up all the factors in a schematic map

Now we’ve taken all this data and we’ve put it in an app.

 

JUST ASK! Said the scientist if you really want to know

JUST ASK! Said the techie if you want to have a go

If you want to know what’s goin’ on and want your farm to last

You can put it in an app and all you have to do is Ask!

 

Will it rain or will it snow should I put them in the shed?

Should I feed or should I drench, or will they all drop dead?

Should I sow or should I wait, can I have another win?

Should I buy or should I sell, Oh where do I begin?

 

ASK BILL! Said the farmer if you really wanna know

ASK BILL! Said the stockman if you want your stock to grow

If you wanna know what’s goin on to help increase your odds

Then crunch the data in the app, don’t leave it to the gods!

 

Now there’s management decisions that you really need to learn

Like stocking rates and feeding rates and economic terms

But climate and disease you know can screw up all your work

But Bill can help to save yourself so you don’t go berserk!

 

ASK BILL! Said the drover if you really want to know

ASK BILL! Said the ringer if you wanna crop to grow

If you want to know what’s goin’ on so you can have a rest

Well give the job to Bill and he will do his very best.

 

So you’ve had a bit of rain it seems and life is lookin’ good

But you want know if all your sheep will be misunderstood

Is there worms about or signs of drought you can sort out all this crap

If you gather up your data and you put it in an app.

 

ASK BILL! Said the shearer if you really wanna know

ASK BILL! Said the classer if you want your wool to grow

If you want to know what’s goin’ on and want your farm to last

You can put it in an app and all you have to do is Ask!

 

ASK BILL! Said the shearer if you really want to know

ASK BILL! Said the classer if you want your sheep to grow

If you want to know what’s goin’ on and help increase your odds

Well crunch the data in the app don’t leave to the gods.

 

ASK BILL! Said the drover if you really want to know

ASK BILL! Said the farmer if you wanna have a go

If you want to know what’s goin’ on and want your farm to last

You can put it in an app and all you have to do is Ask!

“ASKBILL” Lyrics & Music by Rhonda Brooks © 2017 (used under licence by Sheep CRC Limited)

Source: SheepCRC.

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