Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Technology holds key to cutting costs for dairy sector

Innovations being showcased at next month's EuroTier Show in Germany will have a big impact on dairy and other farming sectors

GEA dairy system
GEA dairy system

Chris McCullough

Innovative technology that can reduce farmers' costs - especially in the dairying sector - will increase profitability in the future.

This is the goal for a record 2,523 exhibitors from 57 countries who will introduce their latest innovations in livestock production at the EuroTier Show in Hanover, Germany, from November 15 to 18.

Held every two years, EuroTier is the world's leading trade show for animal husbandry and livestock management, and attracts around 160,000 visitors from all over the world.

Organiser DLG, Germany's Agriculture Society, will also present 25 of the innovations with either a gold or silver medal at the show.

The event is being held in the Exhibition Centre in Hanover, which has over 280,000 square metres of exhibition space.

The majority of the countries exhibiting, accounting for 58 per cent, come from outside Germany.

With some sectors of the agricultural industry struggling financially the exhibitors say they continue to introduce new technology that can make farm businesses more efficient.

Farmers still require the latest knowledge in areas of breeding, feeding, husbandry, management, logistics and - most especially - in the areas animal health and animal welfare.

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The challenge farmers have to meet is to feed ten billion people in the future with food in sufficient amounts and quality produced from an overall decreasing number of hectares worldwide.

A total of 14 Irish companies will exhibit at Eurotier this year hoping to secure more international business.

However, the spirits of European farmers is still somewhat dampened with only some countries showing a willingness to invest for the future.

A survey conducted by the DLG showed dairy farmers in Great Britain were more willing to spend cash to invest in new technology than those in France.

Polish and German farmers were a little bit more cautious with their spending plan for the next few years.

Self propelled robot

A new self-propelled robot called Rover will make its debut at EuroTier to show farmers how it can not only automatically mix a feed and dispense it to the cows but also push up that feed as it passes.

Developed by Rovibec in Quebec, Canada the new robotic feeding system will be distributed in parts of Europe by Schauer Agrotronic in Austria.

This system uses a double cone mixer with a 3.4 cubic metres capacity to automatically fill itself from the feed station, transport the mix to the cattle and dispense it.

In the process of dispensing fresh feed Rover can also push up any remains of the previous feed with its specially designed front. Alternatively it can be used solely to push the feed up between feeding times. Rover runs on power rails between the cattle areas and the feeding station requiring only 7.7 kW to mix and run. One robotic system is recommended to feed between 100 and 300 animals several times per day if required.

The vertical double cone mixing system with the cutting augers can easily handle round bales, long-fibred silage and even hay in small quantities.

Due to its robust construction and self-driven platform with a standard four-wheel drive Rover can go anywhere in any shed with ease.

And if your livestock house is small, Rover only needs a turning circle radius of 1.5m and a feeding width of 2.5m as it can dispense on both sides.

Rover has a price tag in the region of €120,000- 130,000.

Smart sensor system for early detection of mastitis

GEA is introducing smart technology for future farming at EuroTier with the introduction of the world's first detector for mastitis at the udder quarter.

With CMIQ monitoring, GEA is presenting a real-time system for effective early detection of mastitis in each quarter.

The CMIQ sensor records the milk composition of each individual quarter during the overall milking process. It then analyses and compares the existing data on short notice, so that any necessary action required with the cows can start right after milking.

This includes the automatic selection of infected or at-risk animals and treatment and progress checks during lactation periods, through to animal management adjustments.

As a result, the CMIQ sensor technology can lead to verifiably improved herd health with less work. GEA will launch the system in 2017. Since July 2016, GEA's product developers have been adding the control software WIC (Wireless Integrated Control) to the tried-and-tested GEA MixFeeder.

The WIC system directly connects raw feed stores and silos and controls each individual step of the process fully automatically: from the precise weighing and mixing of the feed components in accordance with set feeding plans and specifications, to time-controlled group feeding.

The MixFeeder with WIC ensures that each group of animals receives the individual feed blend it needs, tailored to its performance level. The WIC software can be controlled via PC or touch panel.

Also, for those farmers who are keen on GEA's DairyProQ automated rotary parlour system, the company is offering customers an extended warranty of up to five years.

Voice-controlled calf feeding system in the pipeline

Next year will see the production of a new voice controlled calf feeder coming to the market by Urban, a German based calf feeding specialist.

A voice activation unit will be added to the company's new computer-controlled Calffeeder Urban Alma Pro as standard.

The company say being voice controlled makes it more easy and efficient to handle the feeder as well as input data about each calf on a regular basis.

With this voice controlled option, data can be entered to the new Urban Alma Pro Talk from inside of the calf pen while the farmer or his staff are standing beside and looking at the calf and monitoring its behaviour. Using a remote Bluetooth headset gives the farmer the freedom and ability to work with both hands on the animal which is important for example when the temperature of the calf has to be measured.

Also all the documentations required by the European Commission in terms of regulations such as birth dates can be input with this system.

When it comes to feeding calves, individual adjustments regarding the concentration and amount of milk any particular calf requires can also be decided by the voice control.

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