With the Stirling Ranges Beef team comprising 10 people, who all need to communicate with each other, as well as with agronomists and other farming partners, there is an obvious need for a data platform to keep everyone on the same page and create awareness across the farm.
Stirling Ranges Beef owner Paul O’Meehan adopted Agworld as soon as it became available in 2011, and actively encouraged his agronomy providers to do the same so that they can work on the same dataset and both have maximum visibility into the operation.
All staff involved in the cropping side of Stirling Ranges Beef now have the ability to see exactly what is going on in each field through Agworld, without wasting time or having to ask someone else, and can contribute their own data as well. This knowledge across the team creates awareness of the task at hand in each field and prevents potential mistakes at all levels.
Stirling Ranges Beef is a third-generation farming operation based around Borden, in Western Australia’s Great Southern region, who pride themselves on producing some of the best grass reared, grain finished, premium West Australian beef. Next to the 5,000 head feedlot, Cropping Manager Martin Brooks and his team of 4 staff grow a rotation of wheat, barley, canola, lupins, peas, fava beans and ryegrass on 11,600 hectares of land. Most of the barley, hay and some of the lupins, get used in the feedlot, with the excess sold to a variety of clients.
Everyone on the cropping team, Martin, three full-time spray operators, and other staff depending on the season, have access to Agworld to keep track of each field. Martin explains: “It’s not just our staff that have access to Agworld, our agronomists and chemical supplier use the platform too. With a farm spanning 11,600 hectares, divided over 158 fields up to 40 kilometres apart, data accuracy becomes a must in order to avoid mistakes and work as efficiently as possible. It’s also for this reason that we run a full-time three person spray crew, two sprayer drivers and one batcher, operating two John Deere 4060 self-propelled sprayers that we run a maximum of two years each and a batching truck. These guys have the best equipment available, and all the knowledge they need at their fingertips at all times through Agworld, to ensure maximum productivity.”
From plan to production
Each year the management team at Stirling Ranges Beef creates a cropping plan together with their agronomists and aim to have this finished around September - when the previous crop hasn’t even been harvested. Martin: “As we mainly plan according to our crop rotation, we are able to lock in the planning for the next season pretty early. The advantage for us is that this allows us to know exactly which residual chemistry we can utilise post-harvest to optimise our weed suppression strategy.’
‘Because we create the plan in Agworld, our whole team has instant visibility and everyone knows exactly what will happen in each field next year. This allows us to all keep an eye on it throughout our harvest period and, if anyone spots an issue with a particular field in the plan for whatever reason that might be, we have plenty of time to make adjustments before seeding starts again in May.”
Martin continues: “When the season starts, our input provider knows exactly what we’re planning to apply through Agworld, and can therefore make sure they have plenty of stock available for us. Once seeding has finished and the crops are growing, our agronomists check each field on a regular basis. As soon as a field needs an application, the agronomists will turn a particular part of the plan into a recommendation in Agworld and send that through to us. The spray crew automatically gets notified of this recommendation in Agworld and can then action this. Because our inputs provider can see this in Agworld as well, they can make sure to deliver the right product on-time and to the right location, so that we don’t lose any time and can start with the application immediately.”
The main benefit that Agworld brings to the Stirling Ranges Beef operation according to owner Paul O’Meehan, is the fact that his farm data is now cloud-based: “I am away from the farm on business quite often, but I still want to keep a pulse on what’s happening on the farm and how the crops are progressing. Agworld allows me to see all our field-information in real time, as soon as it’s entered by the agronomists or someone from our team, and gives me a good picture of how the team is tracking with the work that we need to do.”
Paul continues: “It’s also important to me that the cost of each application, and input applied, is shown in Agworld and visible to all our staff. The reality of what it costs to run a spray rig and how expensive the chemicals are that we use, gives everyone a better understanding of what is at stake every day. Everyone realising how critical their role is in this large operation, is almost a ‘daily wakeup call’ of sorts, and helps to keep everyone focused on the task at hand.”
Martin adds: “That same visibility is really helpful for our agronomists as well. Because we have so many fields under management, we need Agworld to keep track of which field has been sprayed and use this as a means of communication with our agronomists. They don’t need to call us and ask any questions, they can just drive to the field they want to have a look at and instantly know what has happened in the field through Agworld.”
Martin concludes with: “The most important thing that Agworld brings to Stirling Ranges Beef is the ability for us to simplify and structure our processes. Our spray crew knows they have to stick to the recommendations as they are set in Agworld, unless an agronomist, Paul or myself has told them otherwise; this is really black and white, which is helpful for a team our size. Once they have finished an application, they have to convert the recommendation into an actual application in Agworld and enter all the relevant details like date, times, weather etc., so we have that as part of the spray record. Because of this process that we have created around Agworld, we can prevent mistakes and all stakeholders always know exactly where we are at and what we need to do next; this is invaluable to us.”
When Tom Curnow moved back to the family farm in 2016 and immediately started managing all farming related activities, he needed instant access to as much historical field data as possible in order to make the best possible crop management decisions.
Deadfinish Farm and Tincurrin Rural ServicesDudinin, WA
In-field Data Accessibility
Clinton Mullan previously utilised a legacy technology provider to create plans for his agronomy clients, but this system was not cloud-based and was not available in-field; making in-season decision making challenging.