Agriculture is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and considering dairy products and crops are basic necessities, it will continue to be forever. But, like everything else in society, technology is starting to have a significant influence. The good old days involved hard-working individuals working from morning to night in a bid to make their farm a success.
However, with the evolution of technology, there is now an effective way to outsource those repetitive tasks and reduce manual labour costs. When we say outsourcing, we’re referring to robots: a brilliant combination of lasers, data collection and sensors to create automated technology.
When it comes to your humble glass of milk, even the production of it involves the use of hi-tec devices and robots.
Want to know how it works?
Your milk may be produced by robots. Even if it isn’t today, it probably will be in the future as more and more dairy farms are turning towards robotic milking practices. Gone are the days where milk maids used to work in milk parlours and had to handmilk cows. The two most iconic of cow breeds, the Holstein Friesian and Jersey dairy cow, have the ability to produce high milk yields and even more capacity when robotic milking is introduced.
This is how it works
The dairy cow is free to roam inside a pen. Towards the back of the enclosure is what seems like a comprehensive machine, but in actual fact it’s a seamless, simple system. Sweetened food pellets sit inside boxes that lure the cow into a small, gated area. Once there, the cow’s tag is scanned – a tag which has been pre-registered with a unique number.
By scanning the tag, the robot is presented with a ton of information that helps it milk the cow perfectly. For instance, it intelligently learns the precise shape of the cow’s physique, and the shape of its udder. Oh, and it also discovered when it was last milked; if it assesses that the cow needs milking, the gate will close behind the cow, but if it’s too soon, the cow will be released back into the pen.
When it comes to the actual milking, a robotic arm is first extended to sanitize and stimulate the underside of it’s body. Next, another robotic arm is projected out with four tubes that are attached to an external tank. As you can probably guess, the four tubes are slotted onto individual udders with the help of intricate lasers.
When it’s ready to go, the tubes just start sucking the milk out at a consistent rate that is tailored to that specific cow. The best part? The robot is even able to identify whether the milk is adequate for humans to drink it.
Now, in terms of the benefits for farmers, it can drastically assist in the growth of their business. The robotic machines can milk up to 60 cows per day and can potentially increase the number of milking sessions per day to 3. One farmer in Iowa has 170 dairy cows, and all of them are dealt with by robots.
The new investment has led to an 8% rise in milk production, and subsequently a large boost in revenue. Iowa farmer Doug Stensland indicated his company has seen as much as 15% growth in 3 years since installing the system. He commented –
“When you do things with machinery, there’s no human error or change that happens. It’s always the same thing, and I think it’s advantageous for the animal to have that same thing all the time. They like boredom.”
Ultimately, reports suggest that the cows enjoy the process much more, and the quality testing ensures humans should enjoy drinking it much more.