END OF YEAR MACHINERY DEALS
MUSTERING livestock with a robot may seem like something straight out of Back To The Future, but there is hope that robots may yet be as common on the family farm as a tractor.
SwagBot, an Australian innovation, is in early prototype phase, and has been developed by Professor Salah Sukkarieh, who hopes it may one day be a common sight in paddocks across the country.
“We’ve successfully field-tested it on two NSW grazing properties, and by the end of our three-year project - part-funded by the MLA Donor Company - we hope to have a final prototype ready for extensive testing and operation on farm that a producer or consultant could use,” he said.
SwagBot is battery-powered with solar re-charging capabilities, and it can be directed by remote control, or have a course pre-set through GPS programs and collision avoidance technology.
SwagBot has been programmed to interact with live- stock, read moisture levels in the soil and detect specific weeds and, if necessary, spot spray them.
“SwagBot can interface with on farm mapping program, Farm Map 4D, communicate and work co-operatively with drones, as well as pull a trailer and move livestock,” Salah said.
“While it can offer farm and animal surveillance at present, we’re hoping in future to develop approaches for automated monitoring of animal health as well.”
INVESTMENT: If you’re looking for ways to spend some extra capital on the farm, consider the latest in robotic mustering. Designed to herd livestock, control weeds and send pasture information to a desktop, the robot is still in its prototype phase.