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Monday, 22 May 2017 12:26


A new app will give sheep producers the power to see their stock’s future from the palms of their hands.

The app, available at www.askbill.com.au, was made live to the public today, marking the start of a limited offering of the ASKBILL platform as part of a pre-release user feedback program – a vital step in putting the finishing touches to the product prior to ASKBILL’s full commercial release later this year.
ASKBILL is the latest app developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), in collaboration with the Data to Decisions CRC, the Bureau of Meteorology, the University of New England, and the CRC’s 40 Participant organisations representing the length and breadth of the sheep production value chain.
Sheep CRC chief executive Prof. James Rowe said ASKBILL had been designed to complement producers’ knowledge by providing real-time predictions of the future risks to the farming system.
“ASKBILL provides detailed data about your livestock and pastures, and predicts opportunities and threats to your individual business from the weather, pests or disease - the critical information needed for making more precise farming decisions, protecting the wellbeing of your flock and maximising its productivity,” Prof. Rowe said. 
“And ASKBILL has been designed with the producer in mind – the app is easy to use and we have minimised the inputs required from producers in order to start receiving risk alerts.”
ASKBILL draws on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and forecasts to estimate the following outputs for individual farms:

  • The risk of flystrike
  • Pasture production
  • Livestock nutritional requirements and feed budgets
  • The risk of parasite infection, and
  • Risks associated with extreme weather events – heat and cold.

“By entering farm and production data and monitoring the risk alerts, ASKBILL also allows producers and industry to validate the standards of care their animals have received,” Prof. Rowe said.
The app has been named in honour of Prof. Gordon ‘Bill’ McClymont, who was the founding Dean of the University of New England’s Faculty of Rural Science. ‘Bill’ described the conceptual model of the agricultural ecosystem that provides a framework for analysing the complex interactions of the components that make up grazing systems. 
“It’s only today that we have the computing power, machine learning and biosystems models to realise Bill McClymont’s visionary concept – the result for producers is that ASKBILL can predict future events and analyse ‘what if’ scenarios, putting them in a position of power to prevent, rather than react to, risks to their business,” Prof. Rowe said. “All you need to do is ‘ASKBILL’.”
The predictive, ‘what-if’ and alert capabilities of ASKBILL will be useful to producers, consultants, farm management software providers, the meat and wool supply chains, resellers, suppliers of farm inputs, banks and insurers, all of whom need better information about the future impact of the unfolding seasonal conditions when making management and marketing decisions.
ASKBILL has been released on a limited basis as a pre-commercialisation user trial at $50/user for six months, and users will be required to provide feedback to the development team. A full commercial release of the product is scheduled for November 2017, with pricing and licencing structures to be confirmed.
Breeders, producers, processors and retailers will be able to access the app directly through online purchasing and there will be opportunities for consultants and reseller network to add their expertise to the power of ASKBILL.

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