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The challenge

Improving productivity through better decision making in the oyster industry

Australia produces an estimated 16 million dozen oysters annually with an estimated farm gate production value of $90-100 million.

One of the challenges facing the oyster industry is understanding the effect of environmental conditions, such as salinity, temperature, and feed availability,on oyster growth and condition.

This knowledge can then be incorporated into farming processes to help optimise the production of premium quality animals.

Our response

Bio-sensors providing real time analysis

Oyster bio-sensors are able to be deployed in commercial farms to provide farmers with real-time data on stock conditions.

CSIRO and the University of Tasmania, through our Sense-T partnership, have developed a world first mollusc bio-sensor capable of delivering multiple physiological parameters in real-time from sentinel animals in commercial environments.

The sensors, which are smaller than the size of a pea, connect to a credit card sized electronics board and are attached to 'sentinel' animals. They have been deployed on both abalone and oysters, and provide data on heart activity, animal and water temperatures, pressure (depth), light level and, in the case of oysters, shell gape.

Telemetry systems feed bio-sensor, local environmental and water quality data into our 'Sensor Cloud'. By linking the bio-sensor and environmental data in real time we can understand how the stock are reacting to their environment.

The results

Real time data supporting farming decision making

The bio-sensor project aims to provide an as-it-happens perspective of the behaviour, welfare and health of the animals. On-going laboratory experiments are providing the essential controlled data to interpret data from commercial environments.

The bio-sensor technology has the potential to assist in understanding the impacts of many environmental and management practices, and with the use of sentinel animals will enable farm managers to make better decisions for the short and medium term management of commercial stock for enhanced animal welfare and production.

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