Farming app in running for award

Smartphones help with herd monitoring

PHILLIPA WEBB
Last updated 08:13 28/08/2014
Dairy app
MURRAY WILSON/Fairfax NZ

GRASS2MILK: Massey University Manawatu-based student Hamish Hammond was part of the OneFarm Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management team that created the Grass2Milk app for farmers. It has been shortlisted in the environmental category of the 2014 World Summit Award mobile competition.

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A Manawatu-developed smartphone app could see dairy farmers spending more time on smartphones and less time in paddocks.

The Grass2Milk app developed by the OneFarm Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management - a joint venture by Massey and Lincoln universities - was shortlisted in the environmental category of the 2014 World Summit Award mobile competition.

Massey University agri-business student Hamish Hammond helped to test the app, which allowed farmers to see whether herds were fed enough to reach daily milk and body condition targets to plan feed allocations for the day.

"Most farmers would be really intuitive when it comes to feeding, but they could use [the app] as a gauge."

Based on research by retired Massey University researcher Ian Brookes, the app let farmers enter herd and daily feed information and calculated the total stock energy intake and compared it to the requirements to create optimal calving conditions.

But Hammond, whose father ran a 650-strong dairy farm just outside of Greytown, said getting farmers to embrace the technology was sometimes a challenge. "Farmers will have to get over a few barriers, but there is huge potential if you can make use of it."

The 24-year-old said many farmers such as his father were apprehensive about new technology in general. "There are benefits to farmers using technology, such as accessing information from external organisations such as Fonterra and Massey. You can contact people from your gumboots in the middle of the paddock."

FarmOne business manager Linda Stewart said the Grass2Milk download page had more than 9000 views and many comments and tweets from farmers giving feedback about the app.

FarmOne senior research officer Liz Dooley said the organisation - funded by DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries - was looking to develop other apps to assist farmers, based on irrigation and stock management. "There is a generational thing happening, but there are some older ones who are really keen on the new technology. It's the way of the future."

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- Manawatu Standard

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