The insights of sheep producers trialling the new ASKBILL app will drive a new wave of innovation ahead of its full commercial release in November.
The web-based app was developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) to provide sheep producers with the critical information for making more precise farming decisions, protecting the wellbeing of their flock and maximising productivity.
To help improve the app, Sheep CRC has appointed experienced sheep industry professional Mary Goodacre to work with users to identify opportunities to take ASKBILL to the next level.
Her work complements the interviews and surveys being conducted by Penny Schulz as part of her Sheep CRC sponsored PhD being undertaken through the University of New England.
Mrs Schulz is evaluating the use of smartphone apps in the sheep industry and producer attitudes towards these tools, in order to ensure future tools and technologies meet their needs.
Ms Goodacre has previously worked with Meat & Livestock Australia Australian Wool Innovation in research, product development and extension, and applied that experience to her own grazing property in central-west NSW.
‘‘I’ll be working with the ASKBILL development team to seek feedback from those producers who are already using the app so that we can ensure the commercial version is as useful as possible when it is launched on the open market in November,’’ Ms Goodacre said.
‘‘The insights of producers currently testing the app will be vital to ensuring it is as relevant to their needs and as easy to use as possible when the next version is developed.’’
The predictive capabilities of ASKBILL, and the fact that is customised for individual farms and the sheep that they run, means it can be used to complement producers’ expertise and experience in order to help with management decisions.
ASKBILL draws on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and weather forecasts to provide alerts in relation to key factors that can affect sheep production, including:
■Pasture production and feed budgets.
■Live weight and condition score.
■Extreme weather events (heat and cold).
ASKBILL licences are still available to producers to participate in the pre-commercialisation user trial.
■For more information, go to: www.askbill.com.au