Edmonton Builders Create App To Assist Ranchers Enhance Cattle Elevating

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Jeff Labine A cow takes a break from pasture in a field between Beaumont and Edmonton on Saturday, July 18, 2020. A cow takes a break from pasture in a field between Beaumont and Edmonton on Saturday, July 18, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postal media

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An Edmonton nonprofit is developing a digital solution to make it easier for ranchers to track the health and wellbeing of their animals.

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Alberta Innovates announced on Wednesday that Livestock Gentec, in partnership with Dr. David Wishart, a professor in the University of Alberta’s science faculty, has received $ 481,000 to develop an app that will help cattle breeders sort the myriad of data they go through on a daily basis. Rancher will have to wait a while before they can use the app, as development is expected to take three years.

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Graham Plastow, CEO of Livestock Gentec, said the app will use artificial intelligence to sort the data.

“Beef farmers have to be essentially like stockbrokers,” he said. “(They have to) be people who know when to sell, when to hold, and when to buy. Unfortunately, unlike the folks on Wall Street … they don’t have huge computers, huge databases, and all of the analytical tools you need to make those decisions. There are many sources of information, but how do you get the right information at hand? “

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Livestock Gentec is also working with the cattle producer Beefbooster, who will provide additional data for the app.

Plastow said the goal of the app is not only to bring greater convenience to ranchers, but also greater confidence.

“It (won’t) necessarily say the answer is 49 or whatever your favorite number is,” he said. “It will allow them to look at different scenarios and do scenario planning. It’s a way for people to examine their options and help them make those decisions. “

Plastow said that since it is taking a few years to develop, he hopes cell phone companies have expanded enough into rural areas to offer more coverage to ranchers who use the app, although it will continue to be usable offline.

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He said ranchers have used more and more technology over the years, but the focus has been mostly on crops, not livestock.

“There’s a lot of technology on the plant side, but it’s a bit sterile on the cattle side,” said Plastow. “(The app) will take off, I’m sure.”

The app was just one of eight agricultural projects funded by Alberta Innovates as part of the Smart Agriculture and Food Digitization and Automation Challenge with a total of more than $ 3 million.

Natisha Stashko, executive director of Smart Agriculture and Food at Alberta Innovates, said the agribusiness as a whole is adopting more intelligent technology as many farmers and ranchers realize they can access information as needed. She said Alberta is well positioned to use technology for the benefit of agriculture.

“Using some of these tools to improve animal health and increase productivity on the farm will really position the agribusiness in a better position to do well both here in Alberta and in the world in the future be, ”said Stashko.

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