23 Northern Ireland dairy farmers have been selected for a research project examining efficient robotic systems.

AgriSearch’s Robotic Milking Discussion Group will contribute to an Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) research project entitled ‘The role of robotic milking for NI dairying’.

The four-year programme will be funded by DAERA and AgriSearch. The discussion group aims to help farmers benchmark and improve performance of their robots.

The participants will not only participate in discussion group meetings, but also provide on-farm data for analysis by the project team at AFBI over a three-year period.

This will allow current performance to be benchmarked and key drivers affecting efficiency to be identified.

Farms involved in the project will also be given the opportunity to trial strategies to improve the performance of their robot and cow systems.

Commenting on the farmer-led research, Jason Rankin, general manager of AgriSearch, said: “With increasing numbers of NI dairy farmers installing robotic milking systems, it is vital that farmers are equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills to make the most of this considerable investment.

“By recruiting 23 farmers with extensive experience of using robotic milking systems we can use their knowledge to identify the key areas requiring research, benchmark performance and trial new management strategies to optimise performance across a range of farming systems.”