'Precision Ranching' research at TRU awarded large grant

By Adam Donnelly
September 13, 2016 - 5:11pm Updated: September 14, 2016 - 1:20pm

KAMLOOPS — Advances in technology have made many facets of modern living easier. Now, one researcher at Thompson Rivers University is employing new technology to the cattle ranching industry, in the hopes of taking some of the guesswork out of the job of being a rancher.

There was a significant funding announcement today at Thompson Rivers University, for an ongoing research project into what’s being called precision ranching.

“We’re getting $660,000 from NSERC [The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada], and $1.1 Million in total funding,” Dr. John Church told CFJC Today.

Church, who’s an Associate Professor at TRU, as well as the university’s BC Regional Innovation Chair in Cattle Industry Sustainability has been collaborating on the project with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for two years. The project is designed to use new technology to make the job of cattle ranching easier.

“We’re using this wonderful new research assistant: drones,” Church explained. “These drones have the potential… to revolutionize the cattle industry.”

Along with the drones, the grant will provide funding for solar powered ear tags, which can make it easier for ranchers to locate lost cattle.

“Our B.C. ranch community, they depend on these mountain pastures, but it’s quite a job,” Church explained. “About 85% of [cattle] come home on their own, but it’s that last 15% - they spend an enormous amount of time searching for lost cattle. We think with these tags, we can actually use the drones to go out and find them.”

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