PLF Australia (Precision Livestock Farming), based in Emerald, Central Queensland, was established to design and deliver ‘best-of-breed’ sensor-based automation and real time management information for agricultural operations.
The use of sensor technology to monitor farm performance and to control systems remotely has until recently been expensive and largely proprietary – meaning vendors tend to lock in clients to their solutions and leaving the farmer client with little option but to pay for the systems and services provided.
PLF Australia is of the view that the evolution of technology to an Internet of Things (IoT) approach is going to break down proprietary structures in all industries, including in the farming sector which is one of the last to benefit from this new ubiquitous situation.
Farm management today involves considerable time for farmers to travel their property checking their fences, stock/crops, water supplies, vehicles location and so on. This activity can take hours to days and so intervention when problems are detected is often slow. In addition, livestock and crop growth and profitability can be compromised through a lack of real time information. Research shows (https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/AF/Areas/Digital-agriculture) material gains in productivity across a wide range of agricultural businesses, if real time information is presented to farmers.
Examples of the information that can be captured in real time include water levels and flow, soil moisture and temperature and animal identification, location, weight and overall wellbeing.
Connectivity is a key to the transfer of this data to a central data repository and then presentation of management information to the farmer on their mobile device. With current management information the farmer can intervene quickly to mitigate problems before they become serious and make more informed management decisions on where to foster growth and minimise costs.
The output for the farmer is a customised view of their property, the sensors installed to measure water levels, soil moisture content and temperature, access to drone recorded video of flyovers of the farm, accumulating information on animals’ weight and other critical information that raise productivity and reduce costs.