Welcome to the pre-launch of the Back Paddock Opterra platform for digital agriculture and it’s about integration on multiple fronts.
The Opterra development is based on feedback from our clients that in order to optimize productivity croppers need to combine soil, water, plant data and mixed farmers need to integrate livestock data as well.
So, what is Opterra?
At its core, it’s an architecture to bring all the elements that need to be managed on-farm into a single environment, to then build-out what needs to integrate with that core environment…what falls out of that is the list of other technologies that complement each other but have previously been disconnected. A great example is traditional soil-testing (below the ground agronomy) combined with spatial imagery (above the ground), where a biomass image can provide insight into where and how to divide a paddock into pragmatic management zones, to determine soil-test sites and later for paddock inspection and so on.
It’s also very much about designing from the get-go, a platform that is ready to interconnect and interoperate with other applications and platforms. Initially, there’s just four integration partners but over the next five years with the expansion of on-farm internet-connected devices and machines it’s expected there’ll be hundreds of separate vendors, all part of a interconnected, networked environment. So, in one way it’s an integration of the Aussie homegrown vendors, but also looking at the continuum of the farming cycle from pre-season planning to post-season analysis, on a perpetual basis.
In stage I, in an industry first, we’re bringing livestock planning in alongside crop-planning. Meaning that we’ve added the APVMA-registered animal and veterinary health product catalogue to the Back Paddock Master Database, to enable mob-planning to replicate crop-planning.
In the past five years, the agronomic world has changed substantially. We’ve moved from mostly paper-based content to electronic, largely by the availability of mobile devices with wireless connectivity such the iPhone and iPad, that have made use of mobile-apps in the field. Another trend has emerged though, that is causing the next wave of disruption based around the reality that in agriculture we’ve collectively created hundreds of applications yet ‘nothing talks to anything else’.
The industry is now screaming out for someone to ‘join-the-dots’ by taking the fundamental (data) requirements around farmer, farm, paddock, zone and making that available to as many applications that need it, as today to use more than one application on farm requires that housekeeping to be duplicated. That core aggregation then defines the second stage development for Opterra, to enable many applications to share and more importantly integrate information to enable complex interpretation to occur. Back Paddock has done that for many years with the interpretation of soil-test results to crop-type specific nutrition programs and now the next iteration is the interpretation of available feed within a paddock, to the optimisation of available energy to a livestock mob.
Opterra Livestock Integration – the trial period.
Opterra is a multi-year, multi-stage project with initial rollout across 2018. Back Paddock is working with a now-established early-adopter group to drive the development of what will become the unique platform integrating soil, water, plant and animal. The first piece of that program of work is to integrate animal and veterinary products to the master database, such that livestock planning can occur alongside crop and pasture planning and for the first time enable whole-farm planning across mixed-farming enterprises.
In parallel, our Dr Chris Dowling is working with TPC Agriculture’s Mark Emonson on the feed-budgeting ‘maths and science’ to take the crop and pasture nutrition ‘interpretation’ to the level of mapping livestock classes to the available dry matter in paddock. There’s enormous industry interest in the outcome of the work to address the need to optimise stocking rates, better manage pastures (sustainability) and maximise profits. We invite any further expressions of interest if you have an appetite to assist us with the project.
We welcome you to read on to the following pages for some insight into the initial launch partners and the core context of where and how they are core to the broader platform for digital agriculture.