LIC Data Hub

April 2011

A data hub developed by genetics company LIC pulls farm information together

Integration of information gathering on farm into a central data hub, allowing farmers to get on with the business of farming.

Picture this… drive down the farm on your quad bike with a Cdax pasture meter on the bike, ride around the paddock (with the Cdax taking pasture readings) and then head back to the shed.

The bike is fitted with a console with Bluetooth which, when it comes past the shed with the data hub, communicates with it and if required, transfers data to the data hub.

The datahub then sends data to a database/application on the web, where various forms of information can be created/generated including text messages/website reports/alerts/warning etc back to the farmer, farm consultant etc.

All of this can be viewed via a MINDA Home type portal, either on the farm PC or a handheld device.

Traditionally, farmers have relied on animal recording services like LIC’s MINDA, which is used by the majority of New Zealand dairy farmers. But the complexity and volatility of dairying has added another dimension and today’s farmers need packages which combine a range of data – things like animal production, weather, nutrients, land, sustainability, financial data and generic merit – into a single view of their farming businesses.

The type of information which the datahub could grab and transmit would include (but not be restricted to) the following:

• Weather stations

• Pasture meters

• Water irrigators and pumps

• Effluent irrigators

• Soil moisture and temp probes

• Fertiliser spreaders (via consoles)

• Sprayers (via Console)

LIC purchased the 104 hectare Rukuhia property in early 2010, taking over in June. A commercial dairy farm, producing an average of 145,000 kgmf, the property was purchased to be a centre of innovation for the company.

Prior to its purchase, LIC literally relied on the goodwill of many of their customers to allow them to develop innovative new products at their farms but even with the best will in the world, this was an inconvenience to the farmer.

LIC’s information integration strategy is about providing farmers with integrated information and decision support tools so they can make better decisions, and providing them with a range of automation tools that will increase productivity and save labour.

The purchase of the Rukuhia property accelerates that technology development and provides farmers with a showcase for practical applications on a commercial farm.

Some considerable time was spent finding the right property – it had to be close to Head Office where the scientists and R&D people are located (the Rukuhia farm is 17 km away). It had to be an established, highly productive dairy farm with an excellent history (over the last two years the farm has averaged around 145,000 kgms from 370 LIC bred crossbred cows).

LIC bought the land, Fonterra shares and livestock for around $7.1 million. The purchase was funded by the sale of the Feilding bull property which had become surplus to requirements post-development of DNA proven genetics which meant large areas of land on which to graze bulls were no longer required..