“When it comes to technologies on farms, there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” shared Mississippi State’s Amanda Stone as way of introducing her presentation at the American Dairy Science Association’s annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio.
She was tasked with highlighting the top five technologies available to dairies today. With that introduction, she reminded attendees that the best options are going to depend on the farmer, not on the technology. Even if the perfect technology existed, the way it’s managed matters just as much, she emphasized.
The top five
So instead, Stone presented the top five considerations to use when evaluating new technologies. She said, “The top technology options will improve farm efficiency, farm economics, decision making, animal welfare, and producer happiness.”
From a farm efficiency standpoint, measuring data is important, but farmers must also be able to report, analyze, test, and improve the system. If a farmer doesn’t take full advantage of the collected data, then it’s not being used as efficiently as possible.
A second important point
The story of farm efficiency ties in closely to Stone’s second point of economics. This is hard to evaluate before a technology is installed because it varies so significantly based on management factors. “Producers need to use common sense, cow sense, and business. Farmers need to use all three of their most important senses to understand the data,” she said.
Technology can greatly change decision making on farms. Stone says that farmers should analyze the data and actually use it. Don’t be afraid to trust the data.
Animal welfare is of growing importance in the dairy industry. Although Stone pointed out that dairy farmers have always cared about animal welfare, being able to monitor it and make decisions based on data observations can be wonderful for consumers to see and producers to utilize to get better.
Finally, producer happiness is often overlooked, but important when evaluating a technology on the farm.
“If this technology isn’t going to make them happy in some other part of their life, don’t suggest they do it. It’s not going to be something that makes them happy,” she emphasized.