AgriLand catches up with Dr John Daly, research and innovation manager at Dairymaster at this year’s National Ploughing Championships.

Tell us about new innovations in milk tank and milk cooling that Dairymaster is showcasing here today at the Ploughing?
We now have the most efficient milk cooling tank on the market at the moment. We have put a lot of research and development into the milk cooling side of it and have tested it in our own test facility where we can show that we have the lowest cooling cost per 1,000 litres of milk on the market and the fastest cooling time.

With energy prices increasing energy consumption is a big concern for farmers, do you have any idea of the cost saving that can be achieved?
We can achieve a 13 per cent energy reduction in cooling costs that is actually over where it was at a year ago. This in itself has been down on the Teagasc figures so we are down to 50 per cent of the Teagasc figures from a few years ago before Dairymaster started committing to the milk tank market. We have made huge strides and a huge difference to the cost of milk cooling with the introduction of the Swift Cool Milk Tank.

How is the milk cooling market going for Dairymaster in Ireland with the expansion of the dairy market?
It’s brilliant so far and the Ploughing has underlined this with huge numbers of people in and out to the stand yesterday and again today. There has been a lot of interest in the milk tank and with lots of people looking at expanding their herd and possibly larger milk tanks and especially the newer technology to make sure they are ready for the post quota era, we have been genuinely surprised at the level of interest.

Can you tell us about the importance of milk cooling once it enters the tank?
There are two key areas. The first area is getting the milk cooled quickly and efficiently. So getting the temperature down as quick as you can and as cheaply as you can. The second aspect is making sure that once it has cooled that it stays cold. We have worked on both sides of that, so once the milk has been cooled in our tank, due to its efficiencies, if there was a power cut with a Dairymaster Milk Tank, the milk would only rise by 0.1 of a degree over 24 hours so once we get the milk cooled, it stays cold.

What other technologies are used within the tank?
Milk level measurement so that the tank knows the level of milk contained within it and can adjust the cooling to match. We also have mobile phone technology so the tank can communicate to the farmer if there are alerts or messages that need to be sent, or the farmer can communicate back to the milk tank and can actually start the cooling for example remotely from his phone, or put the tank into deep cooling mode, or find out what time the milk collection was at and the temperature when it was collected.

This is similar technology that we use in our products such as Moo Monitor Heat detection system where farms can get information on their mobile phone app or within our Smart Feeder where the farmer can update cow details and cow status via his mobile phone. The Smart Feeder is the produce we have for the dry cow management, the nutritional management in the dry cow period, which is obviously an important period for the cow. Its very important to get her nutrition right at that time coming up to calving.

Dairymaster is all about using technology and bringing it into dairy farming as much as possible to increase the automation and improve efficiency, and labour efficiency on the farm. We want to make the farmers life easier and we see a lot of the interest that is being generated is coming from farmers looking to improve the bottom line on their farm, but also that they can have a better quality of life and a better standard of living. So by using technology a farmer doesn’t have to be out on the farm from seven in the morning until eleven at night, he can actually have a lot of the work automated, he simply receives the updates and is managing rather than actually doing the work.

To demonstrate labour efficiency at the Ploughing this year, we have the “udder race”, which is a competition we are running with Pieta House to see how quickly a person can attach milking clusters. We had a guy yesterday that was doing the equivalent of 1,000 cows per hour that demonstrates what can be done with the equipment and level of automation we have on the products from Dairymaster.

What are the next big areas for innovation in the next 10 years in milking and stock management in your opinion?
It’s all a push to make the farm more sustainable and profitable and make farming life more enjoyable. So it’s whatever can contribute to that. And whether that is to improve the bottom line or profitability of the farm or make the farmers life easier by automating tasks that he doesn’t need to do and give him more information. We would look at continuing the level of automation that is available in the milking parlour to make the milking faster, easier and more efficient.

Improve the herd health, herd health monitoring, monitoring individual animals, animal nutrition, these are all areas we will focusing on, this is where we see the future of farming.

If we are to talk about expansion and post-Quota and volatility, it’s probably going to mean that farmers are going to have to increase their production, where possibly there is a smaller margin per cow.

How will this be done, are farmers going to have to work harder or run faster just to stay still?
I would say no. What we would be focusing on is to increase the level of technology on the farm and in the parlour and we would be working on that, both to improve the efficiency for herd health monitoring, herd monitoring, taking the moo monitors a step further to expand the capabilities they have.

Nutritional management on the farm and management of the dairy cow and helping farmers to be able to do that more effectively and as herd gets bigger, the farmers will still be able to manage each cow as an individual cow and deal with each cow relative to her individual needs.