GPS/GIS technology in range cattle management

TitleGPS/GIS technology in range cattle management
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsAnderson D.M.
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume90, supple 3/J .
Start Pagep. 426
Date Published07/2012
ARIS Log Number286861

Animal dominated landscapes are dynamic and not fully understood. Electronics were first employed in the mid-1970’s to monitor free-ranging cattle behavior and its impact on forage utilization. By the mid-90’s satellite positioning systems were being used to monitor wildlife and had all but removed human observation from animal tracking. However, not until the end of the 90’s did animal born satellite receiver’s catapult range cattle management into the world of microchip technology. This advent eliminated some challenges associated with terrestrial based systems but added others not the least of which has been how best to provide sustained power to animal born electronics. This question caused a conundrum for researchers deciding how to balance data collection rates with battery power drain since satellite based systems have the potential to collect data in fractions of a second. To assist in interpreting the vast reservoirs of time-stamped positional data available, researchers began looking to biotic and abiotic information in the vicinity of the animal’s geographical location to help explain the animal’s behavior. Enter the Geographic Information System (GIS) with its origins in the late 50’s and 60’s. It provides hardware and software capable of capturing, storing, retrieving, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced data. By combining GIS and Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite data researchers were given a robust way to accurately associate possible cause and affect relationships. Because of the complexity associated with electronically obtained data, it is mandatory that multifaceted teams be established from the onset not only to keep electronics operational but to optimize the design, gathering, summarization, analyses, interpretation and application of data. Though electronics have replaced the drudgery and incompleteness of manual data gathering, electronics should never be used in an attempt to replace the art of human observation and discernment that ultimately provides the interpretation and application of field based management.