Graziers: throw out the notebook, pick up the smart phone

Mick and Kirsty Wettenhall
“Weemabah”, 3650 hectares, Trangie, Western Plains NSW
Beef cattle, cereals and legumes cropping
Average rainfall 475 mm

NSW mixed farmer Mick Wettenhall runs a beef and cropping enterprise near Trangie, on the Western Plains of NSW. Mick joined up to trial MaiaGrazing last year and says the “smart” system is finally bringing grazing technology into the 21st century.

“Data is really important – there is an old adage that says if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Mick said.

“We’ve used grazing charts in the past to work out days of feed on hand in an effort to match stocking rate to carrying capacity, but running scenarios of stock numbers and rainfall is laborious when using a pen and paper, which tends to mean it doesn’t get done.”

Mick believed he needed live farm data to put it to good use, but he wasn’t aware of any programs that offered more than just record keeping for the grazing industry. He was looking for a program that took live data and let him use it in planning and forecasting.

When Mick heard about MaiaGrazing, he signed up for a trial. He now enters livestock, rainfall and paddock data via his laptop, though he expects to use a mobile phone in the future.

“MaiaGrazing is the only program I have come across that can be used as an effective planning tool to help make solid business decisions for our grazing enterprise,” said Mick.

“The key to any profitable grazing system is feed budgeting: having a reliable way of knowing how many days of feed we have on hand. With the MaiaGrazing program I can run different scenarios as conditions change, and that helps me make well-founded decisions about balancing my stocking rate to carrying capacity,” Mick said.

“Our operating model is geared towards very low inputs and costs, but I think there are opportunities we could be missing by not using other management strategies just because we are trying to minimise cost. Trialing different seeding regimes and having a program that can measure the return on our investment helps with building our resource base whilst remaining profitable.”
Mick is excited about the future direction of the software.

“Down the track we should be able to overlay our own data with satellite and biomass imagery to really streamline grass budgeting and get reliable estimates very quickly. That kind of detail is really where the industry needs to go.”

Maia’s subscription payment model is a new approach that took Mick a while to accept. But the benefits are immediate.
“Farmers are familiar with just buying a software package. But because Maia runs on subscription, the backup is top notch. I can always call and get personal help.”

The support team is great to work with and really open to feedback on how to improve the program to best suit my business. They are in it for the long haul and understand intimately where the program needs to go to be of the most value to their clients. If you’re running a business of any scale and this technology helps you make even just one or two good strategic decisions, then it’s more than paid for the investment.”

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