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Queensland Rolls Out Smart Collars for Bovines Herd Management

Local dairy farmers will be able to use ‘smart collars’ to monitor the health of their cows through a Digital Transformation Grant from the Queensland Government.

The Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities said that Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation (QDO) would receive $200,000 towards adopting digital animal health management systems for the industry. “These grants were established under Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan to help farmers to access new opportunities,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic created serious challenges for the agriculture sector, but the region’s Government has worked closely with industry to find solutions for emerging problems and stand shoulder to shoulder with its farmers. This is a direct and practical way the Government is supporting the dairy industry as part of Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan, he said.

Meanwhile, the QDO President said the grant will support a $646,880 digital herd monitoring project that will:

  • provide financial assistance and support for 10 producers to implement the technology and establish producer demonstration sites where farmers can share learning and see the technology in action
  • deliver regional industry training workshops in the Darling Downs, Scenic Rim, Sunshine Coast, Burnett and Tablelands Region

“This is a great advance in animal health and welfare for the dairy industry and a valuable tool for farmers as the technology monitors individual cows and the herd to provide health and reproduction alerts, allowing for the early detection of anything that may be making the animal uncomfortable,” QDO president said.

A total of $5.5 million is being invested over three years through the Digital Transformation in Agribusiness Initiative. This funding, as part of the COVID-19 economic recovery strategy, will support agribusinesses to become digitally aware and ready to respond to future disruptions.

This digital technology allows for new ways of management and adds value to the agricultural sector with the increase in precision, efficiency and sustainability. It offers innovative ways to connect producers to consumers, reduce problems related to remoteness in rural communities and attract the next generation to jobs in the industry.

The QDO President also noted that there was strong interest from the industry in the first round of the Agribusiness Digital Solutions Grant Program. There were 22 applications and the diversity of project proposals demonstrates the opportunities digital technologies create for the sector.

Under a co-investment model, grants of up to $200,000 were offered for projects that enhance digital skills, drive business efficiencies and create regional jobs across Queensland. The approved grants of $1.045 million are for projects that use a range of technologies including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, intelligent apps, big data, automation, artificial intelligence and sensors.

About the Digital Transformation Grant

In October 2020, the Queensland Government opened applications under a grant program to help agribusiness recover from COVID-19 through digital transformation. The Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries had said that the $1.2 million was available for industry organisations in round one of the Agribusiness Digital Solutions Grant Program.

The government said they would be providing $5.5 million for the digital transformation of agribusiness as part of stage two economic recovery initiatives. This initiative aims to enhance digital skills, drive business efficiencies and create regional jobs across Queensland.

Accelerating digital transformation from farm to plate will create a resilient and profitable agribusiness sector, the minister noted. Technology and innovation have been identified as a key priority to position the Queensland agribusiness and food sector to address challenges and capitalise on opportunities in response to COVID-19, he said.

Adopting digital solutions, such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, big data and advanced robotics has the ability to transform the sector. These technologies are developing quickly and changing the systems of production, management and governance across agribusiness and food supply chains.

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