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Early adopters embrace technology

Early adopters embrace technology

From drones to ground-breaking app technology, Janina and Slim Slee have been keen to adopt leading-edge tools to enhance the operation of their Kurow farm.

For the couple, the internet has become so integral to running their 2500-hectare property, they couldn’t imagine life without it.

They run a beef farm with dairy grazing, 400 mixed-aged beef cows, and a few sheep. Over 170 hectares of the land is irrigated and they manage the farm with the help of two full-time staff members.

An unlimited broadband connection plays an essential role in keeping the farm operating efficiently, says Janina.

“Dial-up used to drive me insane,” she laughs. “it would always trip out especially if the neighbour’s fence was shorting out.”

“Then when we moved here, we had a Farmside satellite dish installed. Now, we have an unlimited connection with boosters to take it to other parts of the house.”

Janina, who is a director of the local irrigation company and former chair of the local school board, was an early adopter of accounting software back in 2002. Alongside their farming operation, the Slees also do contracting work and Janina describes the software as vital for running the business

“I’d be lost if the internet was out. I absolutely love using the accounting software. You go on and download the last month’s data and code it, and if the internet was down, I couldn’t download it at the time, and it would be a pain. To keep up to speed with different things, you need to receive all the emails when they come in, almost by the hour otherwise it is hard work to get through the mountain of info.”

Janina utilises various apps including AgriGPS to convert sizes and measurements on the farm. The technology enables her to make accurate measurements of perimeters using her iPhone.

“We don’t have accurate maps yet because of on-farm conversions so I measure the paddocks, and then tell the sprayer or spreader how many hectares they have to work with.

“I email it to myself and then I use Google Earth to read the outlines of the paddocks. It gives my exact location and marks it out exactly as it would look on a map, and it’s instantly logged into your phone. Technology has certainly evolved, that’s for sure.”

The Slees also use solar power, and there’s an app for that, too, which tells Janina exactly how much power they are generating, and how much they’re using.

Drones come in handy during mustering, especially in remote sections of the high-country block which are more difficult to access on foot.

“The drone requires an iPad and connectivity to be able to talk to Wi-Fi, internet and satellites, but they’ve evolved and are really handy.

“We fly it over big ravines and the cattle just run the way you want them to run. I’ve also used it to check a cow calving in a far paddock I didn’t want to disturb once. I flew the drone over to have a look and could see she’d calved.”

Janina says farming information is also much easier to access due to technology, with the ability to review farm products before purchasing online.

She’s also noticed that with generational changes, the local farming community is also embracing technology.

“The young ones come back now while their parents are still on the farm, they’re using a lot of technology, and a lot of older members of the farming community are embracing it, too.

“If the internet ever does drop out, the neighbours keep in touch, and they ring and text saying, ‘is your internet out, because mine’s not working’. Our wee community is good like that.”

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