Obstacles and opportunities for automation in sheep and beef farming
Automation of tasks on farm has had limited uptake in tools such as auto-weighing and auto-drafting. To develop an understanding of the range of digital tools and the potential to automate tasks in the sheep and beef industry, workshops with end-users were held in the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Current digital technology use on sheep and beef farms included 26 applications representing the categories of communications, administration, monitoring, automated tasks, decision support, prediction, and proof of placement. Obstacles included the amount of time required to either set up or support the technology once in operation. Interoperability and the transfer of information between applications and along the value chain were major obstacles to generating value from combining digital technologies. Automation of data flows along the value chain would provide a significant step forward in the uptake of digital technologies. Digital solutions to aid automation need to be interoperable, with data able to be passed between software solutions, and between users to reduce compliance time and increase accuracy of data handling. The technologies need to be appropriate to be adopted on large scales in an automated way to capture labour-saving benefits. Automation solutions need to translate data into a decision-making form to allow easy interpretation and application of data.
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