Digital homestead

The Digital Homestead project involved collecting real-time property data on livestock, pasture and the environment by remote technologies (such as walk-over-weighing scales, satellite images, GPS collars and weather stations), information external to the farm (meat schedules, local sale results, and weather forecasts) and integrating this information to be viewed at the homestead on one simple, user friendly computer screen known as the ‘Dashboard’. The aim of implementing these technologies and the dashboard was to reduce labour, operating and management costs by providing graziers with the information to make timely and informed decisions.

The project was a collaborative effort between CSIRO, James Cook University (JCU), the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Queensland University of Technology. It was partially funded through the Queensland Government Smart Futures fund and ran until September 2014. The technology was developed and tested at CSIRO’s Lansdown Research Station and was then applied at a commercial scale at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Spyglass Beef Research Facility.

Information collected

A range of on-farm measures were collected in real-time across Lansdown. These included: animal liveweight from walk-over-weighing scales; animal location and grazing behaviour using cutting-edge GPS and animal monitoring collars; weather and soil moisture indicators; pasture availability and condition. Information was also collected from sources external to the property including market information and climate forecasts. Some technologies were also installed and evaluated at Spyglass, including walk-over-weighing to remotely collect liveweight data, weather stations and tank monitors.

The Dashboard

Data is integrated and presented via the Dashboard. It can be customised to individual grazier needs and present information at a property scale, then by clicking on a particular paddock or herd, you can view all the information for that particular paddock or herd. As an example, liveweight data can be presented as either liveweight or liveweight gain, with the potential to have a display indicating the number of animals meeting a particular user-defined weight range (e.g. >600kg). Animal locations can be seen across the property with alerts appearing if animals move out of designated areas (e.g. have broken through a fence or have been stolen).

Industry engagement

The Dashboard and the elements it displays were developed in conjunction with industry through input from the Grazier Reference group and grazier surveys.

For more information please visit the Digital Homestead website.

When: July 2012 to September 2014

Where: North Queensland: Lansdown Research Station – Woodstock (CSIRO) near Townsville;  Spyglass Research Station (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) near Charters Towers

Contact: Angela Anderson, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Collaborators: CSIRO, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, James Cook University and the Queensland University of Technology