Yes, we have technology for technology’s sake, and then we have precision technology. That is where agriculture is going. It is a cost-intensive business. When technology can add efficiencies, such as reducing waste, do a more precise job or cut the time needed to produce a product, those are key decision factors that can make precision technologies successful.
Technology helps dairy farmers measure more parameters, interpret more data into useful information and integrate multiple data sources to improve their performance and efficiency. The impact is not just cost but rather reducing costs by improving animal well-being. In the dairy world, technology also helps reduce health problems, such as mastitis, metabolic disorders or lameness.
Without a doubt, also key are nonmonetary factors, such as how quickly the technology may become antiquated (while the cost of technology is coming down, it is still expensive).
Another factor that enters into the decision to use technology is quality of life, which probably is more important than maximizing profit on farms where the family provides a large proportion of the labor.
For instance, a technology that is growing in our region is robotic milking. Based on my observations, producers who are adopting this technology wanted to improve their quality of life and have a more flexible work schedule. They wanted to be able to participate in family activities, they were interested in new technologies or they wanted to expand their herd size by a fraction without hiring much extra labor.
Come to hear about these technologies and more at the Precision Agriculture Action Summit on Jan. 20-21 in Jamestown.