Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Watch: Imagine a farm without fences

Fenceless farming trail starts in New Zealand

FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

One of the largest research institutes in New Zealand and Agersens have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to understand the application of an innovative new virtual fencing technology to farms in New Zealand.

The MoU will enable the two parties to work together to run trials and evaluate the operation and effectiveness of the Agersens’ eShepherd technology in New Zealand’s pastoral farming conditions.

The technology is an alternative to conventional fencing for livestock on farms, and uses a collar and an app that enables farmers to fence, move, or monitor their livestock using their smartphones – from anywhere, anytime.

“We are excited to be working with AgResearch to develop new ways to improve the productivity and sustainability of New Zealand dairy and beef industries,” says Agersens Managing Director Ian Reilly.

“As a world leader developing and applying new innovation to pasture grazing systems, AgResearch is a great collaboration partner to study the application of eShepherd to New Zealand’s unique environmental and agricultural systems.”

AgResearch Chief Executive Tom Richardson says: “This is an exciting new frontier for technology on farms, and we are looking forward to working with Agersens to see how it can bring benefits to New Zealand farm system productivity and environmental performance”.

As New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institute, AgResearch partners with the pastoral sector to identify and deliver innovation that is needed to create value for New Zealand.

Agersens is an Australian agricultural technology company developing eShepherd – a system for dairy and beef cattle. Based in Melbourne, Agersens is recognised as the world leader in livestock virtual fencing having an exclusive license to CSIRO virtual fencing intellectual property, with Gallagher NZ as a strategic partner.

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Australian comapny Agersens is developing the eShepherd – a fenceless farming system, often called a “virtual fence”. Our vision is that this system will enable a farmer to use their smartphone or tablet to create any number of fences, potentially move their livestock, or check their cattle’s health and location from anywhere in the world.  Each animal wears a GPS enabled collar containing patented training software that trains the animal to move or stay with a boundary set up by the farmer.

Potential applications include:

  • Automate grazing management such as strip, cell or rotational grazing
  • Automate the mustering of cattle in difficult terrain or remote sites – avoiding the need for expensive aircraft
  • Remotely monitor and manage their cattle using their smartphone
  • Alert farmers to fence breaks, animal theft, illness or distressed animals such as calving cows
  • Enable farmers to improve the health and welfare of livestock
  • Preventing cattle from polluting and damaging waterways and environmentally sensitive land.
  • Avoiding killing and injuring native wildlife by avoiding barbed wire and netting fences
  • Avoid impact on wildlife habitat by fences or damage by cattle

Strip grazing is common on dairy farms in Australia, but is rare on beef cattle farms because it requires  extra labor to effectively implement. The eShepherd could potentially enable strip/cell grazing for beef farmers without installing additional fences or hiring more labor.

Benefits

  • Improve pasture utilization leading to increased feed availability and fatter cattle
  • Increase carrying capacity
  • Reduce labour required to regularly move stock
  • Avoid capital cost of fence installation

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