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Finnish labs developing tech platform to boost profitability of dairy farms

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Posted: 11 July 2018 | | No comments yet

The solutions will be tested in practice at the Natural Resources Institute Finland’s pilot farm this and next year.

Field measuring instrument GrainSense Oy is being used on the SmartFarm project. Among other things, the device developed by GrainSense Oy measures protein and humidity in grain PHOTOGRAPH: GrainSense Oy

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) are developing a new, smart, competitive technology platform for improving the profitability of dairy farms.

The solution combines clean Finnish milk production with optical measurement technologies, telecommunications and digitalisation, which are used to make real-time milk and feed quality measurements a routine in dairy farms. The solutions will be tested in practice at Luke’s pilot farm this and next year.

”Today, dairy farms need immediate, quick, real-time, reliable data on the quality of milk and silage, which has been scarcely available so far”, said Mikko Utriainen, Project Manager from VTT.

His counterpart at Luke, Matti Pastell, said: ”Continuous data on the composition of milk and silage offers possibilities to improve productivity with the help of feeding control and input-output optimisation. In addition, the farm-specific measurement of milk fat and protein contents that fulfils output control requirements could replace at least some laboratory samples.”

Knowing the dry matter content of silage alone would already be of great help in optimising feeding, the researchers said. In addition to new, more accurate measurement data, the project seeks to develop the usability of the data and the shared use of different systems.

According to a survey carried out in the project, the dairy farms consider increasing milk protein and fat content and silage feed energy content, for instance, as important steps in improving productivity. Only 25 per cent of the dairy farms were satisfied with their current profitability. As much as 93 per cent consider it important to improve profitability with the optimisation of input and output prices and 82 per cent by improving the productivity of work.

Mr Utriainen said both aspects can be addressed with the help of technology and digitalisation. Only 33 per cent of the farms considered increasing agricultural subsidies to be important, which suggests the need to invest in technology in agriculture.

Launched in 2017, the project is financed by Business Finland, and its business partners are Faba osk, Mtech Digital Solutions Oy, GrainSense Oy, PehuTec Oy and Spectral Engines Oy.