From outer space to Walmart: Optiweigh and Agscent are going global to measure methane - evokeAG.

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From outer space to Walmart: Optiweigh and Agscent are going global to measure methane

It started over a crackly phone call with poor reception, but a partnership between two Australian farm-founded startups, Optiweigh and Agscent, is on a mission to deliver clear results for cattle producers, helping them measure their methane emissions in a pasture environment.

Dr Bronwyn Darlington, Agscent, and Bill Mitchell, Optiweigh.

The Optiweigh and Agscent integration offers a remote field-based methane measurement solution which minimises environmental variability during sample collection and integrates the data from the Optiweigh and Agscent methane sensor. 

Cattle are enticed onto the Optiweigh with molasses, a lick block or salt. Stepping on they have their electronic identification (EID) recorded, front feet weighed, and breath sampled for methane and CO2. Liveweight and methane emission information is then accessible via the Optiweigh client portal. 

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Based in the Northern Tablelands, New South Wales, Bill Mitchell is the founder of Optiweigh. 

With the system accurately measuring weight, Bill says he began turning his attention to what else it could measure – and methane is at the top of the list.  

“There’s so much out there about how to improve growth rates, but there’s not much in the space of being able to directly measure methane.

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“That’s a key part of the equation because not only do you get a true measurement of how much we’re emitting per kilo of beef, but you can then start to identify how we can improve that either genetically or through management practices.” 

Bill Mitchell with a friend at evoke<sup>AG.</sup> 2023.

Bill Mitchell (left) at evokeAG. 2023.

Independent research boosting partnership

Founder and CEO of Agscent, Dr Bronwyn Darlington has designed breath diagnostic technologies for livestock by taking sensors used by NASA and embedding them in breath collection technologies.  

They can be used by anyone crush or race side and allows point of care pregnancy and disease diagnostics improving livestock and dairy operator productivity, decreasing costs, reducing operator injury and improving animal welfare. 

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The Agscent /Outweigh methane monitoring system measures methane emissions, CO2, and liveweight in feedyards and across various grazing systems. How? Cattle are attracted onto the automatic weigh station and methane is measured at one second interval while the animal is on the scales.  
Its first integrated model was shipped to a feedlot in Kansas, USA, with the data feeding straight to retail giant, Walmart.  

“To realise that continuous measurements over time in various grazing systems or even on new kinds of feeds was of interest to Walmart was when I thought, ‘we’re really onto something here’,” Bronwyn says.   

Recent external validation has also strengthened the partnership. 

“One of the challenges with these new technologies is being able to get independent validation to compare the differences between new systems,” Bronwyn explains.  

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“Sydney University is completing a comparison against other existing technologies in this space and we have a high correlation with the same findings and use of other technologies that are generally the gold standard now. That’s certainly very affirming.”  

Putting the technology in more producers’ hands

Two years on from that crackling phone call, Optiweigh and Agscent officially announced their partnership at Beef Australia’s Beef2024 in May 2024.  

The next step in the partnership’s timeline?  

“Bill just needs to be able to make more units faster,” Bronwyn laughs.  

Dr Bronwyn Darlington on stage at Beef2024.

Dr Bronwyn Darlington was the winner of the evokeAG. Pitch in the Paddock at Beef2024.

“At the moment this kind of technology [emissions monitoring] is still more focused on the research world and on mitigating activities like supplements to be able to show that they do or don’t work in a variety of situations.”  

Optiweigh and Agscent are also focused on being able to make the product more affordable to producers in the future. 

A recent ARC Discovery Grant from Macquarie University, designed for projects that support applied research addressing a significant problem or gap in knowledge and representing value for money, is a step in that direction.  

“It’s really exciting to be able to work with Macquarie University to take the costs back, to make it a smaller, easier, more efficient and cheaper process,” Bronwyn says.  

One stop shop for animal health

While the partnership’s focus is currently on measuring methane measurements, Agscent and Optiweigh are both working towards it becoming a central point for understanding the overall health and welfare of an animal.  

“The work that Agscent is doing with pregnancy and disease diagnostics can seamlessly integrate into additional sensors in an Optiweigh,” Bronwyn explains.  

“The way it’s set up is really efficient in collecting samples over time. We imagine that when we have the new units [integrating pregnancy and disease diagnostics] it will work in the same way – measuring for methane, disease and pregnancy as they walk into the Optiweigh unit.” 


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“We can then see when they start to demonstrate either that their immune system is racing or that they have the presence of a bacteria or a virus, which immediately gives farmers a decision point and more data to act faster.”  

Proudly founded by two NSW producers, Bill says both Optiweigh and Agscent have their sights firmly set on delivering results across Australia and globally.   

“This is two farm-founded, Australian companies coming together to take on the big boys in the methane space globally,” he says.  

“It’s a robust solution to help people understand what is happening in their own herds to manage their own decisions in their own extensive grazing systems.” 

Tickets are now on sale for evokeAG. 2025 to be held on 18-19 February 2025 in Brisbane, Queensland. Following a sell-out event in 2024 we are encouraging delegates to secure their tickets, flights and accommodation early.

We look forward to seeing you in Brisbane for evokeAG. 2025. In the meantime, catch up on the other conversations about sustainability, climate resilience and the role of agtech in meeting those challenges from here.

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