Hi-tech revolution for livestock
James Cook University has entered a commercial agreement to develop a hi-tech ear tag that could revolutionise the livestock industry.
JCU’s Professor Ian Atkinson is leading the JCU component of a collaborative agreement between the university, the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, CSIRO and industry partner Ceres Tag Pty Ltd. The collaboration will bring to fruition a completely new way of tracking animals by 2020.
“We are developing a new low-power, low-cost ear tag that monitors animal location in collaboration with CSIRO and CeresTag. It can be used to detect if animals stray outside a specified area and for biosecurity monitoring,” he said.
Professor Atkinson said the technology revolves around cutting edge triangulation positioning and cloud processing to reduce power usage and increase accuracy.
“That’s no easy thing to achieve in remote areas, in addition to it having the ability to function in busy places like feedlots as well,” he said.
David Smith, CEO & Development Director of CeresTag Ltd, said there was now an opportunity to provide a customer with a guaranteed record of an animal's entire life. Food security is an increasingly important issue in many countries and providing a guaranteed record of an animal’s history dramatically increases its value.
Mr Smith said the benefits of the new technology will be economic, environmental and social. “We’ll see theft reduction, financial improvement, an increase in operational and land-use efficiency and animal health and biosecurity.
“There is potentially no bigger improvement to provenance and livestock management than what Ceres Tag will enable,” he said.
Minister for Innovation Kate Jones said the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships funding of $1.5 million to James Cook University for the Smart Ear Tag for Livestock project would support the development of world-leading, Queensland-owned technology that had global implications.
“The smart ear tag, which has enormous potential for both Australian farmers and the export market, is another sign of the way Queensland’s burgeoning AgTech sector is driving forward through innovation,” Ms Jones said.
“Project partner Ceres Tag Pty Ltd was one of eleven Queensland AgTech startups that recently travelled to Tel Aviv as part of an Advance Queensland-supported trade mission. This partnership, with CSIRO and James Cook University, is bringing together partners with a range of experience to focus on developing a ground-breaking device.
“The Innovation Partnerships program funding this project is part of the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland $513 million whole-of-government initiative to transform the state’s economy, create knowledge jobs of the future and build Queensland’s reputation as a global innovation and investment destination.”
Initial testing will be conducted at the CSIRO research facilities in Townsville and surrounding regions and commercial trials are anticipated within a year.