The South West Dairy Development Centre, Agri-EPI’s dairy farm of the future, is located in the south west of England – an important milk-producing region, home to nearly 25% of dairy cows in Great Britain. The farm provides a platform to test and demonstrate new and emerging technologies. Agri-EPI Centre commissioned one of their core industrial partners – independent dairy specialist Kingshay – to design, build and operate a state-of-the-art dairy for research and development, with funding from Innovate UK and industry partners.
At its heart is a 180-cow herd run on a commercial basis. The fabric-roofed building is the first of its kind in the UK and measures 90 metres by 28.
Three GEA DairyRobot R9500 (formerly Monobox) do the milking. Feeding is by means of a Mullerup automated feed kitchen. Feed storage bins are mounted on weigh cells to enable accurate feed use and to provide the ForFarmers feed mill with data so that they can optimise their supply logistics.
Being in the heart of superb grass growing country in Somerset, they use technology to maximise the use of grazing for the 180 autumn calving cows. Milk from forage pays. In addition, milk from grazing pays even better so this new facility combines state-of-the-art housing and technology with precision grazing using sensors to measure and manage all aspects of the system.
They are working with other Agri-EPI Centre partners to bring the precision technology already being used in the arable sector across to forage and grazing management.
Demonstration and test bed facilities: 5G RuralFirst
A key element of the dairy centre will be to provide state-of-the-art demonstration facilities with visitor access and high-speed connectivity to exploit the benefits of remote access. The dairy is one of the three test beds for the recently announced 5G RuralFirst project which will exploit the massive opportunities for improved connectivity offered to rural business by the next generation of mobile signal.
It is estimated that there are 13 million connected agricultural devices today. This is forecast to rise to 225 million devices in the next ten years. The challenge will be choosing the technology that is right for your herd and crucially making sure it talks to your other technology.
CLA members will have an introductory talk and a tour.