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Deep dive into what drives success on ASKBILL

Tuesday 1st of August 2017
Mary Goodacre
Mary Goodacre

The insights of sheep producers trialling the new ASKBILL app are set to drive a new wave of innovation ahead of its full commercial release in November.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) has appointed experienced sheep industry professional Mary Goodacre to the task of working with users to identify opportunities to take the ASKBILL to the next level.

Her work complements the interviews and surveys being conducted by Penny Shulz as part of her Sheep CRC sponsored PhD being undertaken through the University of New England.  Mrs Schulz is evaluating the use of smartphone apps in the sheep industry and producer attitudes towards these tools, in order to ensure future tools and technologies meet their needs.

Ms Goodacre has previously worked with the likes of Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) in research, product development and extension, and applied that experience to her own grazing property in central west NSW.

“I’ll be working with the ASKBILL development team to seek feedback from those producers who are already using the app so that we can ensure the commercial version is as useful as possible when it is launched on the open market in November,” Ms Goodacre said.

“The insights of producers currently testing the app will be vital to ensuring it is as relevant to their needs and as easy to use as possible when the next version is developed.”

ASKBILL is currently available to producers willing to participate in a pre-commercialisation user trial. The web-based app was developed by the Sheep CRC to provide sheep producers with the critical information for making more precise farming decisions, protecting the wellbeing of their flock and maximising productivity.

ASKBILL draws on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and weather forecasts to provide alerts in relation to key factors that can affect sheep production:

  • Flystrike
  • Pasture production and feed budgets
  • Live weight and condition score
  • Worm infection, and
  • Extreme weather events – heat and cold.

The predictive capabilities of ASKBILL, and the fact that is customized for individual farms and the sheep that they run, means that it can be used to complement producers’ expertise and experience in order to help with management decisions.

Ms Goodacre, who will be based in Canowindra, NSW, began her work with producers last week, asking users what they like about ASKBILL, what elements are making decisions on the farm easier, and what changes are required to enhance the user experience.  When combined with the information being gathered by Mrs Schulz, these responses will guide the development team.

“I really want to know what producers would like included in future versions of ASKBILL to maximise the wellbeing and productivity of their flocks,” she said.

“It would also be great to find out how ASKBILL is currently performing and if it has simplified less popular tasks like feed budgeting, or if it has opened up the opportunity to do things that they weren’t previously confident in doing, such as forward contracting stock sales.”

  • Licences for ASKBILL remain available to producers to participate in the pre-commercialisation user trial, with a full commercial release of the product scheduled for November 2017. For more information just ASKBILL at www.askbill.com.au


Media contact: Michael Thomson, 0408 819 666.