AgriSearch’s Robotic Milking Discussion Group has gone virtual with its first meeting with the 23 participating farmers held online. This group will contribute to an Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) research project entitled ‘The role of robotic milking for NI dairying’. The project is a four-year programme of work funded by DAERA and AgriSearch. The Discussion Group contributes to the delivery of the project’s on-farm work streams, aiming to benchmark and improve performance of robotics on commercial farms. AgriSearch advertised for participants in early 2020. 23 farmers were selected as co-researchers from across Northern Ireland who are utilising robot milking technology.
The co-researchers 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. There will also be the opportunity for the co-researchers to trial strategies for robot/cow performance improvement.
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.”