Assumption Analysis in Intensive Agriculture Design


It is common place to assume that long-standing practices in successful businesses must be, or be close to, best practices. Testing the assumptions upon which these practices are built can appear to be, at first glance, a waste of resources. The inevitable consequence of such testing would appear to simply confirm current practices.

A recent study conducted by SMK Consultants in Moree however, has found savings which can be realised through simple testing of assumptions. The study was conducted with regard to cattle feedlot designs and looked at the optimisation of vehicle and cattle mustering routes.

Conventional thought is to optimise vehicle routes within the feedlot so as to reduce fuel consumption, travel times, vehicle maintenance, tyre costs and increase the life of vehicles. Mustering routes are generally designed around these optimised vehicle routes.

Taking into account the various factors associated with mustering however, can produce surprising results. When considering factors such as the time spent mustering and the megajoules required by cattle to move distances with the associated additional feed necessary to compensate, non-optimised mustering routes can be more significant than what is commonly thought.

In one particular case, a redesign of a green-field site was warranted to increase the efficiency of the mustering route. While there are obvious welfare benefits to reducing mustering distances, significant bottom line benefits can also be realised.

This type of analysis has more significance for green-field sites as there are less costs associated with a redesign. If you would like us to look into the potential benefits of your site through an assumption analysis, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Thomas S. Tramby

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