Rural Digital Technology Demonstration Day

The Digital Homestead Project invites you to a Rural Digital Technology Demonstration Day at Spyglass Beef Research Station, Charters Towers

WOW with grassDate: Friday October 9th 2015
Time: 9.30-4.00pm
Venue: Spyglass, Charters Towers

THIS IS A FREE EVENT – includes morning/afternoon smoko and lunch

Registration is essential, RSVP by Friday 2nd October to
Phone: Margie Atkinson 0438 387 303 | Rachel Hay 07 4781 3131

Come and see what’s ‘under the bonnet’ of digital technology

Digital Dashboard demonstration
Linking walk over weigh systems, tanks sensors and cameras, and weather stations to the Digital Dashboard

Guest Speakers
The truth from producers who are using the technology about ordering, set-up, running costs, return to revenue

Sprint Day
Watch our up and coming student farmers build simple sensor technology, link it to the dashboard and see real time farm data

Technology providers
Speak with the people who provide the products

Mobile App
Interested producers will help design a new smart phone app for the digital dashboard

Free activities all day!

Map 1 Map 2

Women drive new rural technology, data collection…

RACHEL Hay, a student at James Cook University, is studying how women are playing a critical role in the use of new digital technology in the beef industry.

Rachel, a PhD student, says her work builds on an earlier study that demonstrated the critical role played by women in the beef  industry regarding the use of digital technology. “The 2013 study found that women were  driving technology from the homestead for the paddock, highlighting a shift away from men as sole decision makers in the business, and more towards them playing a larger role in farming diversification and productive partnerships,” she said.  “Adopting technology adds value to the business in terms of profit, and in terms of partnerships.”

Rachel will be at the Westpac Ag-Grow field days to conduct short interviews, and will be found walking around the grounds over the three days.  Attendees are encouraged to help with her research by having a chat.

Rachel said digital technology included computers, smart phones and drones.  “Future livestock management will make increasing use of remote cameras, weather stations, satellite imagery, GPS collars, electronic ear tags, and ‘walk-over’ scales to remotely monitor cattle, pastures and bore levels from the homestead.  “As the use of rural digital technology increases, my research anticipates that women will play a larger role in the management of these technologies.”

Rachel says she is interested in how this affects farming  business, personal career paths  and family aspirations of women in agriculture.

0402 289 724 or

QLD Country Life 15 X25AGP_007P

Future beef: CSIRO technologies transform cattle production and meat, SMH, 24 May 2015

1432374295722From imported dung beetles to friendship-detecting collars, Australia’s beef industry is in an innovation frenzy to boost cattle welfare and the quality of what we eat…

A string of technological advances is expected to accelerate change in the beef industry, ultimately helping producers deliver juicier, tastier cuts to our plates.

…Last month, Troy Laboratories and the CSIRO developed the world’s first gel-based pain relief for cattle, which the MLA declared was “leap forward” in animal welfare.

“When animals don’t feel 100 per cent, they’re not going to perform, not going to eat, they’re not going to be productive,” said Ed Charmley, a CSIRO scientist specialising in agriculture, based in Townsville… Read more here…


Cows wearing tracking collars as part of Digital Homestead research


Research led by James Cook University scientists in collaboration with CSIRO and QUT has come up with a rugged and affordable computer network that could be a boon for cattle farmers.

Professor Ian Atkinson, the Director of JCU’s eResearch programme, leads the Digital Homestead research project that set out in 2012 to evaluate how information and commu

nications technology, particularly NBN and sensor technologies, could improve northern cattle grazing.

The programme was started with $700,000 from the Queensland Smart State grant and brought together researchers from JCU, CSIRO, QUT and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The team fitted solar powered behaviour and tracking collars to cows and installed walk-over weigh stations to monitor their condition. They used satellite technology to keep an eye on pasture performance and grazing capacity and sensors to collect data on weather and water levels in dams. They then tied all the inputs together into a ‘digital dashboard’ farmers could access from their PCs, providing real-time statistics on cattle and the property at a glance.

Professor Atkinson said the parts of the system were relatively simple, but once they were integrated and connected they made a great difference. “Farmers don’t want shiny gadgets. It’s simple, on-farm analytics that can make a significant difference to profits,” he said.

“We’re currently focused on integration, and translation of research. There is some great stuff coming, and the industry needs to get ready to take best advantage of it,” he said. “Extras such as bore monitoring, farm security and even open gate alarms are, or soon will be available, and the priority now is to get the system into the hands of farmers and business as the true NBN roll-out reaches more rural areas within the next year.”

The research team carried out trials at CSIRO’s Landsdown Research Station near Townsville and in September last year began a commercial stage trial at the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s SpyGlass Research Station near Charters Towers.

The next stage will involve working with industry to develop strategies and process to translate the research outcomes into the hands of producers.

  • The Northern Australian beef industry returns about $5.7 billion a year to the Australian economy and accounts for about 5 per cent of all jobs in the north.

Contact: Ian Atkinson

P: (07) 4781 4551

Technology Treat on Beef, Townsville Bulletin, 13 May 2015

SCIENTISTS have created a computer network which could revolutionise the way graziers farm and improve the Northern Australia beef industry’s profitability.

The director of James Cook University’s eResearch program, Professor Ian Atkinson, is leading the Digital Homestead project, which evaluates how information and communications technology, particularly the National Broadband Network and sensors, can improve cattle grazing.

The project started in 2012 and has brought together scientists from JCU, CSIRO, the Queensland University of Technology and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).

The team fitted solar-powered behaviour and tracking collars to cattle (pictured) and installed walkover weigh stations to monitor their condition, using satellite technology to keep an eye on pasture performance and grazing capacity, and sensors to collect data on weather and water levels in dams.

Researchers then tied all the inputs together into a “digital dashboard” farmers could access from their PCs.

Read more…. Technology Treat on Beef



Beefing up Science: CSIRO’s take on improving livestock profitability

CSIRO scientists will be presenting their latest beef cattle research at an afternoon seminar on Thursday 7 May at Beef Australia, the major event on the Australian beef industry’s calendar for 2015.

“We’re looking forward to talking about our latest research that is focussed on improving productivity, profitability and sustainability through breeding and management practices” Dr Drewe Ferguson said.

“In particular, the ‘digital homestead’ project in collaboration with James Cook University is trialling technologies that provide daily information to assist the farmer with management of feed, reproduction and preparing livestock for market.”

The two hour CSIRO seminar (starts at 3.30pm) will explore how our multidisciplinary research is addressing the big challenges facing the industry.  The session will be followed by the Northern Beef Digital Technology Futures Steering Committee Q&A style session which aims to explore how this group might be structured and where it might sit within existing organisations.

Further details about the CSIRO Session can be found here

Further details about the Northern Beef Digital Technology Futures Steering Committee Q&A style session can be found here


Creating a ‘digital homestead’

CSIRO in Queensland are working to develop, test and demonstrate technology that can monitor how cattle properties are running. The project team is building a ‘one-stop-shop’ online dashboard to enable farmers to access information about their farms remotely, integrate it with know how from outside the farm, all with the aim of improving their decisions.  Read more about the project here CSIRO – Digital-Homestead


Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Inc. Supports Rural Women and Technology

Leanne Kruss the Regional Workforce Development Officer for Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Inc. (MDFVGA) says “Women are playing an ever increasing role in decision making in farming and agribusiness. Women play a significant part in Australian and Global Agribusiness and they are occupying a rising number of diverse roles throughout the industry, read more in Leanne’s article… Media release International Rural Womens Congress Adelaide 2015 final


The Digital Homestead attends the International Rural Women’s Congress

Jess Fealy, Leanne Kruss and Rachel Hay at the International Rural Women’s Congress

From left to right – Jess Fealy, Leanne Kruss and Rachel Hay at the International Rural Women’s Congress in Adelaide, South Australia.

Rachel Hay attended the International Rural Women’s Congress in Adelaide (March 2015) along with local tablelands farmer Jess Fealy and Leanne Kruss from the Mareeba Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association. The Congress recognises rural women and their contribution to farming, and especially women using technology to contribute to a sustainable future for Australian agriculture. Rachel was able to introduce the congress attendees to both the Digital Homestead project and to her research on Rural Woman and Technology, both of which received much interest. Keynote speakers included award-winning filmmaker Sarah Gayton from the UK. Sarah is the founder and driving force behind “Farmers on Film” where she encourages food producers to tell their story on film. Using technology to inform consumers of the origin of their food and the effort involved in producing it.