Agriculture

Case study: Optiweigh

Inmarsat worked with Optiweigh to enhance its automated cattle weighing system with our global satellite connectivity, delivered via the IsatData Pro service.

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About Optiweigh

Optiweigh is a reliable, automated in-paddock weighing system that provides livestock farmers with a smart, fast and cost-effective way to remotely monitor and measure the weight of the livestock in their herds. The product was officially launched in 2019 and is now available across every state in Australia.

The challenge

In commercial cattle operations, monitoring the weight of animals regularly is crucial to optimising profitability and costs. A 2009 study estimated the cost of failing to meet weight targets to be approximately AUS$8.50 per head of cattle. This is estimated to cost Australian farmers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Regular weighing helps the farmer decide when to sell the cattle to achieve the target weight and avoid penalties, as well as optimise the feeding regime, which is a major cost of the operation. Traditionally, weighing cattle is a manual and time-consuming process, which involves manually gathering the herd in. In Australia, where farming is often carried out over huge areas of remote land, the process can take days and incur significant costs. This also means there is a limit to how regularly data can be gathered, which limits the ability for farmers to accurately optimise their feeding regimes and the timing of sale to hit market targets for carcass weight.

The solution

The Optiweigh remote weighing system enables farmers to obtain accurate weight readings at regular intervals without the cost, time and live-weight loss associated with manually weighing cattle. Optiweigh’s self-powered system weighs the front two feet of the animal and uses highly accurate algorithms to generate whole body weights which are sent to the farmer in real-time to view on their smartphone or laptop. The system is highly portable and can be towed from one paddock to another with
ease.

Within 2-3 days of deploying the device, the farmer can receive an accurate snapshot of the weight of individual animals and the entire herd, without the need to spend hours of time travelling between enclosures to manually herd and weigh cattle. This also saves fuel and reduces vehicle maintenance costs. Additionally, remote weighing can increase productivity, as the cattle can continue to graze without needing to be placed in a holding pen whilst waiting to be weighed.

The results

Optiweigh was launched in early 2019 and now has 33 units placed across every state in Australia. As Bill Mitchell, Founder and CEO of Optiweigh explained: “We are getting fantastic feedback from our customers. One farm in Queensland had a weighing programme for 2,000 cattle that previously took three days from start-to-finish. They now weigh the herd remotely, with data automatically transmitted directly to their laptops or mobile phones.”

The Optiweigh system and the objective data it generates has huge potential to enable the industry to become more environmentally friendly. For the first time, farmers can prove the live weight gain of their cattle and the time to market which could help to lower greenhouse gas emissions (in terms of methane from cattle and the extra fossil fuels used in the day-to-day operation) for each kilogram of beef produced.

The high accuracy of this data has meant customers are able to sell cattle at the right time with higher returns, and these savings mean they have more money to invest back in their farms. The partnership with Inmarsat has enabled us to ensure our customers will be able to obtain critical real-time data from wherever the Optiweigh system is on their farm.
Bill Mitchell, Founder, Optiweigh

Key benefits of IsatData Pro:

  • Global: highly reliable global
    coverage with one device
  • Low cost: affordable
    technology optimised for
    industrial IoT/M2M
  • Ease of use: easy to install,
    with low power consumption
    for long-term operation
  • Flexible: users have a range of
    device options for software
    and system integrators
  • Complements mobile
    wireless at low incremental
    cost including hybrid multinetwork

Where we deliver

Due to the unique nature of Inmarsat’s geostationary satellite network we can deliver highly resilient, mobile communications services across the world. Global Xpress (GX), our Ka-band service is delivered through our Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellites, while Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) is delivered, through our Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellites.

Where required, our ecosystem of local partners will deliver onsite warranty, support and repairs, and Inmarsat will ensure that all license and regulatory compliance will be in place.

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