A new digital ear tag developed with support from the State Government could revolutionise Australia’s $17 billion cattle industry and create jobs in Queensland.
Innovation Minister Kate Jones said the ear tag was about to be put on the market – based on a Townsville project launched by the State Government, James Cook University, Ceres Tag and CSIRO.
“We’re investing in projects that we know will create jobs in regional Queensland,” she said.
“With this new technology, graziers will know if their cattle are sick, if they have roamed too far and the condition of the paddocks their cattle are grazing on.
“This technology could have a huge impact on our Queensland graziers and further grow the premium status of Australian livestock products – a vital component of the Australian economy.”
Ms Jones said the new product had been developed with $1.5 million in funding from the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the product was expected to hit the market next year.
“North Queensland boasts some of the world’s leaders in agtech research and development,” he said.
“With strong support from the State Government, they’re finding new ways to grow this sector and support local jobs.
“I’ll always back local companies and researchers keen to create jobs and grow here in Townsville.”
James Cook University’s Professor Ian Atkinson said the research was now focussed on building the next generation of smart tags.
“The project is focussed on developing an ultra-low power ear tag capable of lasting years on a single battery charge, with a range of at least 10 kilometres,” he said.
“Our aim is to develop a smart tag solution that would potentially last the lifetime of the animal, require less battery life – and in turn reduce cost to the end-users,” Professor Atkinson said.
CSIRO group leader Dr Ed Charmley said ongoing trials in Townsville and Fletcherview (near Charters Towers) were important to ensure reliability of the tags in Australia’s unique and harsh conditions.
“Aussie farmers need every bit of help they can get right now so we are pleased we have been able to move from the research phase into development,” he said.
“Our focus for the next smart tag iteration will be to create a smaller and lighter tag, as well as added functionality such as a temperature sensor, which could alert farmers to illnesses at an earlier stage,” Dr Charmley said.
Ceres Tag CEO David Smith said the Ceres Tag gives greater transparency over grazing management, allowing farmers to locate and monitor their animals to reduce risk and operating costs, improve efficiency and assist with traceability.
“The tag is GPS-enabled, allowing farmers to track the location of individual animals remotely, via Internet of Things (IoT) capability,” he said.