This paper aims to explore how Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can be utilized on dairy farms to enhance total farm management. There is a growing worldwide trend for countries to implement whole-of-life traceability systems for livestock, and RFID is clearly the dominant technology being chosen to achieve this aim. In line with this global trend, and to meet the requirements of key trading partners (such as the EU), Australia has implemented the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) to provide whole-of-life traceability for livestock-a system based on the use of RFID devices. As such, it is proposed that dairy farmers utilise RFID so as to not only comply with NLIS requirements, but to extend the use of RFID onto their farms so as to provide additional benefits for themselves through subsequent enhancements in farm management practices.
Key words: Radio Frequency Identification, Livestock, Traceability, Total Farm Management
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is becoming globally recognized as the technology to implement animal identification, and has become a mandatory form of livestock management in many countries (such as Canada and Australia), while other countries have begun trials of the technology (such as the United States of America). In the current global livestock environment, awareness, fear and recognition of animal borne diseases such as 'mad cow disease' have driven calls for reliable and effective systems for individual identification and tracking of livestock throughout the animals' entire lifecycle. Such systems empower authorities with rapid and precise information (such as the animals' farm of origin, cows it has been in contact with etc.), aiding them to take prompt and direct action to reduce the possibility of a disease outbreak. Considering this global trend towards the use of RFID for individual whole-of-life animal tracking, it appears that farmers will soon be utilising this technology, whether by choice or to meet a mandatory/obligatory requirement. RFID is increasingly being touted as a technology solution that will help users achieve business process optimization through automatic identification and location services, and the field of agribusiness is no different to any other industry. As such, it is important that research be undertaken to identify how the electronic identification technology of RFID may be utilized to enhance total farm management, derive additional benefits and maximise return on investment for the farmer.
2.1 What is RFID?
RFID is defined as "... a system that transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves" . This technology is commonly implemented using a system of reusable and programmable RFID tags (also known as transponders) and readers (also known as interrogators). These tags can be attached/built-in to virtually any good/object and provide a storage capacity of up to 2 kilobytes of data . This allows more than just a unique identifier to be stored on the tag, but may also allow additional information pertinent to the object to be stored (such as expiration date, manufacture date, owner information etc.). The receiver can be a mounted or hand-held computer-controlled device, and when a tag is brought within the reading range of a receiver, the receiver captures the data stored on the tag and forwards this to the host computer , , .
2.2 Characteristics of RFID -Active vs Passive Tags
There are two main forms of RFID tags - active and passive. The primary difference between the two is that active tags have their own power source (typically a battery), and also incorporate a transmitter to enable communication, whereas passive tags do not. This power source provides active tags with a greater and more reliable read range, as well as greater data storage and transfer capacity than their passive counterparts. …