New app tracks beef from paddock to plate
DO YOU want to know where your steak came from and what that animal ate before it hit your plate?
Calliope cattle farmer Will Wilson says his industry is facing increasing pressure from consumers to supply detailed information about their beef.
With no official system capable of digitally reporting or tracking that data, Mr Wilson created an app called iHerd.
Mr Wilson runs Calliope Station and now, at any given time, he knows exactly where to find each of his 14,500 cattle.
The app has already been put to use by beef producers around the world, on stations of 30 million cattle in the USA and in South America.
This year, Mr Wilson will get the chance to showcase his technology to industry leaders at Beef 2015 - a national beef exposition held every three years.
"It started the day I got an iPhone," he said. "I looked at it and thought - this isn't a toy, it's a tool.
"There's a push for transparency, sustainability and traceability in our industry because consumers want to know details about their beef.
"But the systems in place can't deliver that information."
iHerd can, he says.
It is a device for farmers to record exactly where in Queensland that animal was, the exact date it was moved and the weight gain over its lifetime.
It has the potential to revolutionise the industry.
Farmers can use the app to sell cattle to nearby buyers, cutting out the need to pay for transport to saleyards.
It's not the only piece of technology Mr Wilson will put on display at Beef 2015.
He has developed another app to simplify weighing and recording data, and is pushing for digital tags to replace numbered tags required by the State Government for each animal.
"We need to move forward with tracking," he said.
"It's just a number that lives on a database no one can search so it's useless."
There are 10 software developers working on Mr Wilson's technology, but he needs 80 and the only thing standing in his way is raising the capital.
Mr Wilson said the rapid uptake in just three years was proof the system was worthwhile and said the Australian beef industry would suffer if it did not adapt to the digital age before its competitor markets.
"If the US rolls something like this out before us, we will be in deep trouble," he said.
"If consumers and suppliers want sustainability and traceability they need to realise farmers are a key part.
"How can they go to a consumer and say we are doing everything right if they are not getting that information straight from the horse's mouth?"