Northern Australia’s innovation frontier

May 10, 2018

Using technology to manage agriculture puts the power into the hands of the farmers.

agricultural science

Sally Leigo creates tools for efficient farm management. Whenever a farmer logs into the Cloud and discovers cattle that are 100 km away are at a good weight to sell, Sally Leigo smiles because her research in agricultural science helped to make it possible.

Helping farmers manage their properties efficiently and sustainably drives this agricultural science researcher, who was recently appointed as Project Manager for the CRC for Developing Northern Australia.

Growing up on a property in western NSW, it was a given that Leigo would end up in farming on some level. After completing an agricultural science degree at the University of Sydney, she started work in artificial insemination. For 13 years Leigo managed research projects for the beef industry, including developing a tool to help farmers know when to sell stock and which pasture is suitable for grazing.

The tool captures cattle weight when stock walk over a weighbridge on their way to watering yards and sends the data via satellite to famers. Satellites also record the greenness of pastures — if cattle are losing weight, it indicates poor pasture. Farmers can then decide when (and whether) to sell, to move cattle to another pasture or to use feed supplements.

Previously farmers only weighed cattle at sale because properties in remote Australia can be thousands of square kilometres in area — comparable to small European countries. “To weigh your cattle on a regular basis is a big undertaking,” says Sally.

In her new role at the CRC Northern Australia, Sally hopes to use her experience in agricultural science to improve opportunities in the agriculture sector.

She is also looking forward to moving into new areas such as traditional owner business-led development.

Rebecca Blackburn

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