Tech helps to tick boxes for farm productivity

Tech helps to tick boxes for farm productivity

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ON-FARM IMPROVEMENT: Farm manager Ben Harrison, Molka, Vic, has gradually introduced multiple agtech platforms across his sheep farm.

ON-FARM IMPROVEMENT: Farm manager Ben Harrison, Molka, Vic, has gradually introduced multiple agtech platforms across his sheep farm.

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THROUGH the introduction of multiple agtech tools, a Vic sheep producer has been able to not only boost production but, most importantly, streamline the entire farming operation and save labour.

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THROUGH the introduction of multiple agtech tools, a Vic sheep producer has been able to not only boost production but, most importantly, streamline the entire farming operation and save labour.

About 4500 first-cross ewes are managed by Ben Harrison, Molka, Vic, and by linking critical on-farm data collection to agtech programs, he has "more control" of the farm.

"We are not doing ground-breaking stuff, but I am trying to relay that through a combination of different agtech, whether it be simple or more complicated, it can really impact productivity and management in a positive way," he said.

Data collection across the entire farm through the use of the AgriWebb app is one agtech that has provided Mr Harrison with a clearer picture of "what's working and what's not".

"It takes out using a lot of the red books," he said.

"As well as handwriting everything down in the paddock and then going back into the office at night and putting it into spreadsheet.

"One wrong entry and it could ruin the whole spreadsheet.

"It was the same with the paddock book. It was clunky and hard to fix too."

But though the AgriWebb app on his smartphone, Mr Harrison can enter data into the program while standing in the sheep yards or moving a mob of sheep.

"It tracks the whole farm to an extent in one program and marries it all together," he said.

Mr Harrison can allocate someone to spray a paddock and that person can enter the spaying details into the populate weather conditions section of the app and it will provide wind conditions and whether it is suitable.

"While you are out there, it can calculate everything and create a spray record for every paddock that you can access anywhere," he said.

"It provides instant data.

"It can be as simple as knowing there should be 375 ewes in a mob and there are only 365. So while you are in the paddock, you can look for the missing sheep straight away."

Mr Harrison also runs sheep feeder scales and an automatic feed shut off.

"I can go into the paddock and know exactly what that mob of sheep need to be fed and the allocated amount," he said.

"It has saved us money with not overfeeding sheep and also not underfeeding.

"We just punch the number in and it gives us peace of mind that those sheep have been fed properly and nothing has been missed."

Mr Harrison said the automated feeder went hand-in-hand with sheep condition scoring.

"Sheep need to be fed the correct amount - that is where we are seeing the greatest benefit," he said.

"We can get sheep into the correct condition and keep them there pretty easily."

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS PROVIDE RELIEF

WIDESPREAD data collection and utilising online selling platforms have become critical tools for a Vic sheep producer and the results have helped to provide "peace of mind".

Molka farm manager Ben Harrison told the crowd at the recent Struan best practice demo day that through agtech being implemented in a "whole farm" approach, he has been able to predict and effectively manage most parts of the Vic operation.

The TWR-1 with a Clipex auto-drafter is used to provide weight, weight history and daily weight gain.

"It is an important tool for us to predict growth weight when contracting lambs," he said.

The auto-drafter allows Mr Harrison and the team to draft 450 lambs into sale lines in about an hour.

Soil tests and temperature probes, although basic pieces of technology, according to Mr Harrison, has provided a lot of information and saved on inputs and time.

"A lot of our country needs lime, so the soil test allows us to manage that and not waste inputs," he said. "We use a local temperature probe, which is handy when sowing summer crops.

"It cannot be too cold or hot, especially when sowing lucerne."

AuctionsPlus has also transformed Mr Harrison's ability to secure sheep.

"In the past two years, we have bought 3000 ewes, with 95 per cent found on AuctionsPlus," he said..

"I can buy the sheep I want while I am in the tractor."

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