Virtual fencing technology for natural resource management
Cattle in the Eden Valley virtual fencing trial fitted with the eShepherd® pre-commercial neckband prototype. Image Supplied
South Australia’s first virtual fencing trial of cattle has successfully demonstrated its use in protecting a native vegetation area from being grazed.
In the trial conducted at Eden Valley by CSIRO in 2019, twenty Santa Gertrudis heifers were fitted with Agersens eShepherd® pre-commercial neckband prototype which trained the cattle to respond to an audio cue as they approached a virtual fence line within a 14-ha wire-fenced paddock.
The trial was conducted over a 44-day period, with the virtual fence line being progressively shifted to prevent cattle from grazing an area of river red gum saplings within the paddock. By the end of the trial the cattle had been excluded from this area for 99.8% of the time, with no observed damage to the saplings.
This promising result demonstrates the potential of virtual fencing technology to deliver various NRM outcomes for graziers, including: keeping animals out of other environmentally sensitive areas (e.g. riparian zones, fragile soils), reduced overgrazing and erosion, and improved maintenance of groundcover and weed control.
The Barossa Improved Grazing Group has produced a two-page case study of CSIRO’s trial results.
Agersens eShepherd® virtual fencing system is yet to be commercialised.