SAN MARCOS – Texas is known worldwide as the home of cowboys and cattle ranching, but the iconic Western industry is on the verge of a high-tech upgrade.
Elizabeth Benavides, an assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture at Texas State University, is working with Reap, a startup focused on solutions for sustainable agriculture to develop Roper, a precision herd management technology that uses solar-powered ear tags with GPS to track livestock. The technology also allows for remote monitoring of the tagged animals’ health.
“The Roper technology will give cattle producers access to location and health records of their animals in real-time, while they are out on the range,” Benavides said. “This will allow producers the ability to make strategic production decisions without the added labor of bringing all animals to a centralized location. Additional benefits include the ability to track animals remotely, which could help mitigate animal loss to predators.”
The Roper tags run on a long-range (3-plus mile) communications network, far exceeding the range of current cattle wearables. Roper provides researchers and producers with the unique ability to maximize livestock fertility and nutrition, sustainably manage grazing and pinpoint animals that are sick or distressed.
At Texas State, the Roper system will be used to collect geospatial in situ data, enabling new research into the early-warning disease and fertility management, predator effects on productivity and the ecological benefit of rotational grazing. Roper will also be evaluated as a science-based decision support tool to help small producers save time and money while improving production efficiency.
Roper was one of three projects selected by the New Ventures competition, co-sponsored by the Materials and Applications Research Center (MARC), National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) and Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park, to receive research space in the STAR One building at STAR Park and a $20,000 prize.
Reap is also among 74 early-stage startups accepted into the 2019 MassChallenge Texas in Austin accelerator program. The accelerator culminates in October 2019 at the MassChallenge Texas in Austin Awards Ceremony, where Reap will compete for half a million dollars in equity-free cash prizes.
For more information, visit www.reap.tech.