Mobile Devices and In-Field Data Capture
At Rezare Systems we are passionate about making software that is both useful and usable for the primary sector. In our work over the last 20 years, we have identified a number of common issues that cause well-intended software systems to fail in achieving their objectives. A classic barrier has been the need to capture data manually in the field, and then transcribe it into the computer – usually at night when a farmer or agribusiness representative has completed their outdoor work for the day.
We seized upon mobile data collection tools as a way of bridging this gap – first with Windows-based software that could be used on a laptop and synchronised, and then with mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Our earlier device software used Windows Mobile, but we have since moved to software that runs on ubiquitous Android smart phones and tablets. Eventually, we hope that the iOS operating system which drives iPhone and iPad devices will also support the connectivity and background processing necessary to work with other hardware in the field.
Our mobile projects have included software to record livestock movements onto and off vehicles, and software that interfaces to weigh scales and EID readers and controls drafting of livestock. We have also developed tools that let farmers capture paddock treatments, grazing, and pasture covers in the field, using GPS location information to identify the correct paddock.
Electronic Identification and Livestock Traceability
The Rezare Systems team have been involved with livestock performance recording and tracing animals between farms for many years. During the 1990s and early 2000s as part of AgResearch we developed New Zealand’s performance recording database for sheep farmers. We also developed Endeavour 2, a combination land management/mapping package and livestock recording system. From 2005 to 2008 we managed a number of technology assessment projects for Innovation Waikato and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Specifically, we looked at the economic benefits that could be gained by using traceability technologies (EID, automated data collection, and databases) on both dairy and sheep and beef farms. In 2007 we developed LivestockOne, a web-based animal recording system with a focus on traceability. LivestockOne was used by Rissington Breedline as part of the SheepLink programme, by StockTrace in the UK for its sheep traceability service, and by Farm IQ Systems as the basis for its livestock management pilot.
The LivestockOne suite of technologies range from in-field mobile tools that interface with weigh scales and EID readers to a central web service and database. LivestockOne has been licensed and customised for a number of industry partners.
Our team has developed and supported the New Zealand sheep industry performance recording database since 2000. Developed in JADE and Microsoft SQL Server for Beef+Lamb New Zealand, the SIL database contains millions of animals, and well over a billion breeding value records.
In 2005-2006 Rezare Systems managed the Dairy Integrated Farm Management programme on behalf of Innovation Waikato and funder NZTE. The project sought to select and demonstrate technologies that would drive significant productivity and profitability enhancements on NZ dairy farms. Most of the technologies selected have since become accepted as “must have” items in dairy farms with scale. Some archived documents from this project are available here.
The Sheep and Beef Integrated Farm Management programme ran from 2007 to 2009, demonstrating the benefits of adopting technology on both North and South Island sheep and beef farms. In conjunction with AbacusBio and Innovation Waikato, Rezare Systems managed the project team that selected and trialled new technologies. You can read about this project here.
Rezare Systems was at the forefront of projects carried out with New Zealand agricultural industry players and The New Zealand RFID Pathfinder Group, trialling the use of UHF tags and readers in livestock. You can read our reports on this project here.
Modelling Biological Systems
At Rezare Systems, a core expertise is turning the mathematical models of biological systems developed by scientists into cohesive, useable and useful software. We consider that a good model that responds sensibly to changes in inputs is a fantastic tool for visualising and understanding complex systems.
What happens to a herd of animals if the feeding regime changes? What can a farm do about extremes of temperature? What factors are limiting grass growth on my farm? What activities on my farm cause loss of nutrients into waterways?
The answers are different for different farms and situations, but sensible models, combined with relevant inputs, can support farmers and their advisors in making good decisions.
Rezare Systems develops and maintains the software that underpins Farmax, a farm and feed planning business. Farmax software is used by top farmers and their consultants to better fit the demand profile of livestock to the pasture growth on their properties. It allows farmers to maximise their profit and proactively manage risk. Learn more about Farmax here.
Developers in the Rezare team worked with AgResearch scientists and industry specialists to come up with the first tools that eventually became Overseer, a nutrient budgeting and greenhouse gas tool. Overseer is now used across the New Zealand agricultural sector, primarily by fertiliser companies, independent consultants, and policymakers. Farmers use the results of the Overseer model to identify ways to save money on inputs and protect the environment. The models behind Overseer are now maintained by AgResearch, and Rezare Systems contracts to turn those into software tools.
NZ Farm Data Standards
Farming is becoming a data-rich activity. Better decisions around environmental compliance and improved productivity and profitability require the ability to draw together disparate data sets around location, soils, climate, feeds, animal heath and genetics, and fertiliser or chemical applications. Farmers will benefit from an innovative technology sector that makes easy to use applications, re-using data without double-entry, and with appropriate security and privacy.
Rezare Systems is leading a programme to develop and evolve Dairy Industry Network Data Standards. This project is funded by NZ dairy farmers through DairyNZ, the Ministry of Primary Industries (through the Primary Growth Partnership), and FarmIQ Systems.
There are three main workstreams:
This programme of work commenced in late 2012, and will run through 2013.
If you are interested in being part of this project, please contact Doug Lineham on 07 981 5016 (our mail format is firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Developing a Code of Practice for information storage and sharing in the pastoral agriculture industry.
- Working on evolving Animal Data Interchange Standards, focusing first on dairy cattle, but with application to other livestock.
- Collaboration on Land Data Interchange Standards, including spatial and non-spatial data, observations and sensors.