CSIRO is in the early stages of developing virtual fences with GPS cattle collars | The lawyer – Hepburn

Growing up in regional Australia, it was not uncommon to visit friends who lived on farms outside the city.

What seemed like a coincidence at the time, but in retrospect was probably a farmer who used free labor, there was always a lot to do around the farm.

Feeding the cattle or driving headers or my personal least favorite – fencing!

It’s been some time since the last time I had to hammer a star stick into the ground. Both the fence materials and the methods of installation have improved technologically, but it is still arduous work that comes with a high price.

Some areas of Australia have very low inventory levels. In the Pilbara in Western Australia, the land requires 60 hectares for each unit of beef. As a result, the average lease area is almost 200,000 hectares.

If you only fenced in the perimeter, that would be at least 180 kilometers of fence.

At a cost of over $ 4,000 per kilometer, that would be $ 750,000 for the installation alone.

With harsh weather conditions and livestock that sometimes literally push the boundaries, ongoing maintenance is also of great importance. The solution? Virtual fence.

With organizations such as the CSIRO and the University of Western Australia involved in the early stages of virtual fencing development, a large-scale trial is now being carried out in the Pilbara of Rio Tinto.

A cow wears a virtual fence collar around its neck. This sensor has small solar panels, a GPS device, speakers, a transmitter and a device that gives the cow a short high voltage pulse when needed.

Sending signals from the device back to a satellite requires more power and precision, so a farmer would install one or more base stations on the property to communicate with the collar.

The device receives GPS information from satellites so it knows exactly where the collar is. By communicating with the local base stations, the exact position of the cow can be reported and updates can be sent back to the virtual collar.

The high-tech farmer sits in front of a computer and draws on a virtual map where he would like his cattle to be.

The farmer can spell out certain areas of land to allow the areas to recuperate, or even use the collars to drive cattle to smaller areas if necessary.

Information on the movement of cattle can be tracked and exact figures are always available.

When the cattle approaches one of the virtual fences, the animal is informed by an acoustic signal that it is approaching a restricted zone. If they keep going and cross the virtual fence, an electrical pulse is used to deter further movement.

This would be similar to the shock an animal can receive if it hits an electric fence. Experiments show that cows only need 48 hours to learn that an acoustic warning means “turn around” to avoid shock.

Experiments show that cows only need 48 hours to learn that an acoustic warning means “to turn around”.

The RSPCA still has concerns about the welfare of the animals using such technologies, and most state governments currently only allow the technology to be used in experiments, but at only $ 40 per collar I can see productivity gains the The future of livestock will change agriculture.

Of course, the physical fence doesn’t just keep cattle in. It also keeps out predators such as dingoes and wild dogs.

Virtual fencing solves many problems, but keeping predators out is not one of them. More technology required!

  • Mathew Dickerson is a technologist, futurologist, and host of the Tech Talk podcast.
This story Virtual Fencing Could Be the Way of the Future for Farmers first appeared in the Canberra Times.

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