Beef 2021

Beef 2021: Black Box Company wins Pitch in Paddock crown

Fiona Myers, 06/05/2021


Emma Black, Shannon Speight and Sam Fryer from Black Box Company receive the prize for winning the 2021 Pitch in the Paddock competition.

A SYSTEM which turns the huge amount of data collected by beef producers and turns it into something they can act on has won Beef 2021’s entrepreneur award.

The Pitch in the Paddock saw everything from pig traps to virtual reality as nine finalists had three minutes each to showcase their innovation.

And it was a data management system known as Black Box which won Beef 2021’s major innovation prize.

Black Box Company is the brainchild of Emma Black and Shannon Speight and involves the analysis of the data collected by livestock producers.

“There is an absolute mountain of data within the industry, and more is being added every day,” Ms Speight.

“Yet as producers we are only making decisions on the basis of a minute amount of that data.”

Black Box is a cloud-based system which has made the large amount of data accessible.

“You can now analyse your data easily, years of it, from multiple different sources and turn it into practical insights to optimise opportunity, increase kilograms and increase value for your beef business,” Ms Speight said.

The Black Box system takes a producer’s data, analyses it, and then presents it on a dashboard.

Black Box started 12 months ago and now has more than 800,000 animals and 12 million data points in the system.

It is possible to input data from the whole supply chain, from producers to processors.

The Pitch in the Paddock award is the latest in a host of accolades for Black Box.

“It is rewarding as we saw the issue and the need to develop a simple, easy to use product,” Ms Speight said.

Development stage: In use by industry

The other finalists were:
Trucktracker app – the app offers the ability to track livestock truck movements in the same way that people track ubers, meal delivery or even postage. It provides a means to manage paperwork associated with livestock movement. Trucktracker is a mobile and web app that tracks locations of trucks carrying livestock providing end to end visibility for producers, transporters, and processors to better manage livestock movements. It uses a smartphone to do this.
Development stage: App has been built and beta testing underway.

Axichain app – the app offers the digitisation of the red meat supply chain. It is possible to digitally list and manage livestock, legally move livestock with a mobile national vendor declaration and sell livestock. The app offers the ability to list the cow, fund the cow, legally move the cow, track the cow, sell the cow, and put the cow in a box using block chain technology. It was pitched as “traceability at its best”.
Development stage: There are 250 users, and the system has tracked more than 15,000 head of livestock.

Water Rat – Produced by FarmO, the Australian-made tank or trough water level monitor is portable, so can be moved to another trough when stock are moved to another paddock.  It costs $749 to buy and $132 a year to have access to the dashboard.
Development stage: There has been a limited release and it is ready to commercialise.

Castration knife handle – A handle which protects users from the scalpel blade has been developed by producer Rob Stewart. The handle design which houses a normal scalpel blade means it is easily held and effective for castration, but also decreases the risk of the operator being cut by the blade.
Development stage: The design has been registered recently and a manufacturer is ready to produce it.

Farm XR – This offers the chance to see farm data live in augmented reality glasses. Developed by Think Digital, the glasses offer virtual and augmented reality agricultural experiences. It will allow the users to see information from their existing dashboards but in augmented reality glasses in the paddock.
Development stage: Available for use on a tablet.

Trackers traps – portable and collapsible pig traps that can be moved to different positions easily should help producers be more responsive to pig damage. It takes a few minutes to collapse the trap and relocate it. It is an easy to operate system with a crane requires only one labour unit and can transport five traps at a time.
Development stage – design has a patent. Trackers Traps debuted at Beef 2021 and there has already been interest from the Northern Territory.

Mapipedia – offers the ability to place data on maps. It integrates with CERES tags, launched this week, which are small tags which fit on the ear of cattle and transmit data via satellite. It is easy to track cattle anywhere and can be used to monitor movements, locate stock and alert owners to theft.
Development stage: Available now.

Herd XL – An app designed by beef producers which aims to provide a cost-effective means of tools and calculators to help producers make decisions. It is a one stop shop offering a practical, simple, and easy to use decision support system.
Development stage – prototype available now for six months and goal of releasing subscription base app by the end of 2021.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Bim+Struss, 08/05/2021

    David Foote….I endorse your comments. It shows us those responsible for the Zanda McDonald award ‘are on the money’ with their selection process. Both Emma and Shannon richly deserve their names etched in the ZMcD Award. Congratulations to you both.

  2. David Foote, 07/05/2021

    Congratulations Emma&Shannon – public acknowledgement of the opportunity and a reinforcement of what can happen when you never say no- despite others saying so
    Ps ( both Zander McDonald award winners )

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -