Last week Maia Technology hosted Australia’s first ag tech event specifically for grazing at the University of New England’s SmartFarm, bringing together experts who discussed the emerging revolution in livestock management and supply chain technologies, along with the official launch of a ground-breaking decision support tool, MaiaGrazing.
The event, titled ‘Australian Ag Tech in 2017 – Precision to Decision for Grazing’ featured speakers including Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh; veteran beef enterprise consultant Bill Hoffman; director of Resource Consulting Services Dr Terry McCosker; UNE SMART Farm’s Professor David Lamb; CEO of Agersens Ian Reilly; Pastures from Space Director Dr Simon Abbott; Meat Industry Advisory Council general manager Patrick Hutchinson; Willmot Cattle Company’s Stuart Austin and Maia Technology co-chairman Alasdair McLeod.
According to Alasdair, the event was held to showcase the significant ag-tech innovation that exists in the grazing sector and discuss how it can be harnessed to increase productivity and profit.
“We brought together some of the greatest minds and most experienced experts in ag tech and grazing at the event because until now, grazing has very much been the poor cousin to cropping when it comes to harnessing technology to maximise performance,” said Alasdair.
“We wanted to showcase what’s available now to graziers, but also discuss how these new technologies and systems can set new standards underpinning food safety, food traceability and environmental sustainability for the industry, and explore Australia’s very real opportunity to become a leader in the convergence of ag-tech and grazing,” he said.
Mick Keogh, Australian Farming Institute Executive Director said he agrees.
“Some have suggested that digital agricultural will be the next major revolution – I tend to agree with this. I think it’s becoming very clear that ag tech will transform the way that farm businesses and their supply chains operate in the next few years and that will open up major opportunities that will enable the sector to grow. However, those who are not prepared for change run the risk of becoming victims of that change,” he said.
Bill Hoffman of Hoffman Beef Consulting said he is confident that better grazing management decisions can help achieve the best outcomes for productivity and profit.
“Decision support technology is the next big king hit for grazing. There is an amazing range of current and emerging technology including MaiaGrazing and others, the challenge is how we make it all fit together to get the most out of it,” he said.
Stuart Austin of Wilmot Cattle Company uses MaiaGrazing and says its greatest strength is that it measures grass.
“We measure every aspect of our business – you can’t manage what you don’t measure. If we can measure the fundamentals, (soil, rainfall, grass, kilos of beef produced and income generated) we can maximise productivity and profitability whilst regenerating our landscape at the same time. MaiaGrazing is valuable to us because we are fundamentally grass farmers and MaiaGrazing measures it. It allows us to plan, monitor and manage, and see the rest period for every paddock on the property. We can match our stocking rate to carrying capacity, and productivity, people and environment are well and truly covered,” he said.
Patrick Hutchinson, General Manager of the Meat Industry Advisory Council said the opportunity for data relies upon how it is used.
“Programmes like MaiaGrazing are giving us confidence as an industry that data being captured can be used effectively and efficiently by producers. This is where we see a great opportunity for a supply chain approach in managing and using data because if data is being generated and the industry is investing in it, we want to be sure that we can make full use of it for producers and in the supply chain,” he said.
The launch of Maia Technology’s, MaiaGrazing at the event demonstrated what technology does best: reach beyond the capacity of the human brain to provide the basis for better decisions.
MaiaGrazing gives graziers a position statement on their farm’s current situation, and its productivity outlook, to support decisions about how stock and pasture are managed for the coming days, weeks and months. That statement is built from data drawn from rainfall, animal and pasture growth models, and from a farm’s own management patterns, to provide a unique picture of future capability.
Attendees at the event were given a demonstration of the decision support technology, as well as eShepherd virtual fencing from Agersens and remote pasture management from Pastures in Space.
“Stress in agricultural comes from not knowing what comes next – if we can improve this using decision support technology, we remove the stress. We know what’s coming, it’s a different story. This is what MaiaGrazing helps graziers to do and we were delighted to have a full house at the event to showcase how this works,” says Maia Technology CEO, Peter Richardson.
MaiaGrazing is just the beginning for Maia Technology – the company’s vision was unveiled at the event – to create an ‘ecosystem’ where third parties can collaborate using the existing platform and data captured via MaiaGrazing, to offer a truly integrated system and approach for grazing.
“We recognise the power of the data we are collecting from producers – we want to bring together other ag-tech providers and products so that together, we can provide a one-stop solution for grazing management, instead of producers buying into lots of different widgets and systems,” said Peter.
MaiaGrazing’s unique power lies in its ability to learn from the past — not just from universal data sources, like historical climate patterns and pasture growth models, but how an individual property is grazed.
“It’s not just a number capturer or cruncher – it’s a way to look forward and make the best decisions based on learning how a specific property performs,” said Peter.