Working out how Australian producers can meet their industry compliance requirements and productivity goals without it impacting ‘business as usual’ was the focus of a joint initiative between MLA and Pairtree Intelligence.
The project mapped out strategies to move ag-tech from purely decision support to decision making.
Pairtree co-founder and NSW beef producer, Hamish Munro (pictured right), said the two main steps to achieve this in an on-farm business are:
- Bring together the range of digital ag providers on the farm and converge their data.
- Present this data in a way that adds value and minimises double entry, while simultaneously improving industry integrity, compliance and reporting.
To achieve this, Pairtree created a central portal which presents and stores data collected from multiple devices on-farm into a single dashboard.
The project delivered a prototype where producers can also ‘opt-in’ to activate a pre-fill function to satisfy the majority of their compliance documentation.
“There is now no need to double enter data for reporting requirements – improved data fidelity is another benefit,” Hamish said.
Better informed decisions
Collating data from numerous sources into an easily digestible format gives producer access to new insights, so better management decisions can be made in areas such as grazing management, animal wellbeing and on-farm efficiencies.
“The capabilities not only improve productivity and management decisions but also remove a layer of work in regard to compliance requirements,” Hamish said.
For example, producers can also more accurately record methane emissions and carbon sequestration data.
Taking the burden out of reporting requirements is good news for producers’ workload, with the collaborative project also working to streamline Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) compliance and the Sheep and Beef Greenhouse Accounting Framework (SB-GAF) tool.
Previously, producers didn’t have access to a single source of data required to fulfil their LPA requirements.
“The approach was to connect to all sources, and then pull the key elements out to formulate a touch-free evidence tool from data that is collected daily through management,” Hamish said.
In order to complete the LPA prototype, Pairtree made connections between:
- Maiagrazing: livestock numbers, locations and movements
- MLA’s National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and National Vendor Declaration (NVD) databases: movements and documents
- Cibolabs: infrastructure and biosecurity maps
- Farmlab: chemical soil test results
- The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s Public Chemical Registration Information System: WHP/ESI chemical inventory.
This system gives producers a snapshot of their LPA compliance, to help identify areas for improvement, which has flow-on effects to improved food safety, biosecurity and product integrity.
“The easier we make on-farm data to collect, comprehend and utilise, the greater the chance more producers will embrace ag-tech,” Hamish said.
Where to start
Hamish recommends producers first identify the areas they want to improve, and then select a bespoke suite of ag-tech that meets their individual business needs.
Set clear production goals and then researching what selection of ag-tech is going to best help them achieve these will ensure a solid return on investment (ROI).
MLA is working to develop an ROI calculator to make this process easier, which will be available in 2023.
“Make sure you’re purchasing things that will make life easier for you,” Hamish said.
He points to remote water sensing monitoring and management as a prime example of where ag-tech can save labour, time and inputs.