“It allows the farmer to relax, with the understanding that the technology is going to do its job properly.”
Meet Baden Parr and Tyrel Glass, the two Massey PHD students behind new smart cattle tracker ProTag.
Protag is one of the eleven AgTech and FoodTech start-ups taking part in our 2021 Sprout Accelerator Cohort B.
Essentially a Fitbit for cows, ProTag’s technology currently provides farmers with the data on when their cows are ovulating, with the company planning to incorporate additional tracking insights in the near future.
Conceived in 2019, the idea for the solution came following the government’s announcement that New Zealand had set a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
“We realised things were going to start changing, and decided we wanted to become part of that change”.
The team were then approached by a farming couple who had problems with the existing tracking products on the market. From there they started fleshing out some ideas, and this led to where they are today.
While ProTag isn't the only company providing this type of tracking, the team say their solution provides a couple of major advantages over their competition.
“The first is around the price-point. We're basically looking to provide the physical product as cheaply as possible to the farmer; from there the software as a service (SAAS) is priced on top”.
“The second aspect is our technical advantage that supports continuous positioning of each animal and improved insights. We’re adding a lot of new technology that has just come out over the last few years, fueled by wearables like Fitbit. The artificial intelligence (AI) embedded in our electronics ensures high accuracy, which gives us a distinct advantage in terms of the quality of insights. It allows the farmer to relax, with the understanding that the technology is going to do its job properly”.
Continuous location updates provide additional advantages. For example, farmers can be notified when and where animals may be getting lame, or have real time grazing insights allowing for accurate pasture biomass estimates.
The ProTag solution is presently in development, with plans to roll out product testing across New Zealand farms over the next few months as their first big trial.
The product currently comprises an ear tag and web portal, with the potential of app development included in their future roadmap.
“It’s going to depend entirely on what the farmer actually wants. That's what we're currently in the process of nutting out, whether or not it's an app that they walk around the farm with, or it's a computer that they sit down at the end of the day and revise; we believe it will likely be a hybrid of the two”.
For Protag, their five year goal is for their technology to be implemented on 15% of New Zealand dairy farms, with future plans being to expand into global markets.
“We want to be the default ‘go to’ product for farmers wanting to improve their on-farm practices, this is something we’re really passionate about”.
“For us, being able to reach our goal basically comes down to surrounding ourselves with people and expertise that we don't have. Sprout has been phenomenal for that - it’s actually kind of mind blowing! Our strategy is really to make connections and build on our expertise - which are opportunities that building a business in a small place like New Zealand offers”.
Sprout is looking for start-ups with a disruptive idea in AgTech or FoodTech to join us for our 2022 Accelerator intake. Think you have what it takes?
Find out more about our Sprout Accelerator.