The dairy industry in North America is amazingly specialized and is continually developing: think about animal husbandry and the tools and management strategies developed as a result of genetic, molecular, and reproductive biotechnological research.
Advancements in genetic technology allow managers to make goals of reaching certain BAA% or CTPI levels and of conserving genetic diversity through breed organizations possible. Molecular biotechnology led us to such things as rumen protected fats, amino acid ration balancing, and rbST. Sometimes advancements are said to go too far by some as in the case of rbST and cloning.
Being uncomfortable with a form of technology is common – think about reproduction: artificial insemination, embryo transfer, sexing, in-vitro fertilization, and cloning have often been adopted in that order on farms, yet many producers still do not utilize basic reproductive tools like A.I.
These are examples from just a few scientific disciplines and their contributions to the dairy industry. Take time and think about your business – which factors influence whether a new product or technique is adopted?
A University of Kentucky study found that characteristics influencing technology adoption include age, level of formal education, learning style, goals, perceptions of risk, and innovativeness in production.
New concepts and products are constantly being introduced, leading to more unique management opportunities and more experiential data sharing. Producers are now more than ever seeking detailed information on hot button topics including: facility management, automated technologies, and group raising calves.
This fact points to a need for more specialized knowledge and technical skills required in our managers and employees.
Those born into the information age of “big data,” automated technology, and computers, are naturally more comfortable with the technology being introduced to the world of dairy.
There are signs more people in their 20s and 30s are going into farming.
Enrollment in university agriculture programs has increased, as has interest in farmer-training programs. With 60% of farmers being over the age of 55, this is encouraging in an industry where the top reason for non-adoption of technology is unfamiliarity.
Often we dedicate more time to the enjoyable aspects of farming and focus more energy on areas we are most comfortable with. Pick a section within your business you wish were improved on – there’s likely someone out there, perhaps already involved with the dairy, with more interest and expertise in the area.