ASKBILL empowers producers to prevent business risks

Lu Hogan, Coordinator Training and Industry Engagement, Sheep CRC, Armidale

A farmer uses the ASKBILL app on his phoneSheep producers can place themselves in a position of power to prevent, rather than react to, risks to their business, by signing up to use the new ASKBILL app from the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

ASKBILL has been designed to complement producers' knowledge by providing real-time predictions of the future risks to the farming system. The aim is to ensure that producers can boost flock productivity and wellbeing while having the peace of mind of always knowing the conditions facing their animals in the hours, days and months ahead.

ASKBILL draws on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and forecasts to estimate the following outputs for individual farms:

  • the risk of flystrike
  • pasture production
  • livestock nutritional requirements and feed budgets
  • the risk of parasite infection
  • risks associated with extreme weather events (heat and cold).

A phone with a text message reads: "Alert from ASKBILL: you have a high risk of fly strike on HILLVIEW for the next 14 days.'ASKBILL provides detailed data about your livestock and pastures, and alerts users to opportunities and threats to their individual business from the weather, pests or disease — the critical information needed for making more precise farming decisions,' Sheep CRC chief executive Professor James Rowe said.

'ASKBILL has been designed with the producer in mind — the app is easy to use, and we have minimised the inputs required from producers to start receiving risk alerts. By entering farm and production data, and monitoring the risk alerts, producers and industry can use ASKBILL to validate the standards of care their animals have received.'

The app is named in honour of Professor Gordon 'Bill' McClymont, who was the founding Dean of the University of New England's Faculty of Rural Science. Bill described the conceptual model of the agricultural ecosystem that provides a framework for analysing the complex interactions of the components that make up grazing systems.

'It's only today that we have the computing power, machine learning and biosystems models to deliver Bill McClymont's visionary concept in a digital form — the result for producers is that ASKBILL can predict future events and analyse "what if" scenarios for individual businesses,' Professor Rowe said.

'All you need to do is "ASKBILL".'

ASKBILL has been released on a limited basis in a pre-commercialisation user trial at $50 per user for six months. Trial participants are required to provide feedback to the development team ahead of a full commercial release of the product in November 2017.

You can subscribe at ASKBILL.

ASKBILL: To predict your livestock's future — just ask.

Page last updated: 03 Jul 2020