Data is great, if as we know it can support management and help decision-making with clear actionable outputs. But we also know it can be a hindrance and even useless, if there is just too much, lacks accuracy, is poorly presented (wrong time, wrong place) with little interpretation or not predictive. This is the data bottleneck and nowhere is this more apparent than on a dairy farm.
A few years back we were involved in a collaborative farm project involving a large dairy cow unit. The primary focus of the project was to look at the economics of reproductive management efficiency incorporating precision based sensor technology. I am in no doubt that a major part of the success of that project, in terms of increased pregnancy rates, reduction in calving interval and ultimately economic return, had much to do with the way that the data was presented to the farm. Yes the sensors and associated software could differentiate the range of oestrous behaviours, but it was the presentation of the cow centric data as a zero touch farm interface with timely follow on actions, linked to farm routine and involving all users on and off the farm, that was the key to tangible success.
Robotisation and automation of the industry has been happening for some time now and from all forecasts is set to increase in the coming years, as we come to grips with the challenges of food chain sustainability (see previous posts).One thing is for sure, the next generation of millennial dairy farmers, will not thank us for consuming their time with volumes of data if that data is not accurate, not presented in a timely fashion, is not predictive and offers little in the way of measurable tangible return.