Automation is key to sustainable food production

The world’s population is rising. According to the United Nations, it is expected to increase by 2 billion in the coming 30 years, from today´s 7.7 billion to 9.7 billion in 2050. We currently do not know how we are going to be able to feed everyone. “In order to figure this out, all of us working with food need to pitch in,” says Jonas Hällman, EVP Digital Services at DeLaval, one of the leading companies in the dairy sector. Here he is to share his view on how automation can help the dairy sector to become more sustainable.

Jonas Hällman, EVP Digital Services at DeLaval

In the dairy sector, we need to consider many different aspects ranging from labour shortages on farms and boosting milk yields to improving food distribution and limiting food waste, while at the same time ensuring good animal welfare and sustainability across the globe.

It is not going to be easy, but there is good news. There are solutions available that can contribute to doing just that with a proper focus on automation. DeLaval´s engineers are working together with farmers around the world to create technological solutions that are resulting in ‘precision dairy farming.’ Expressed in a simple way, DeLaval integrates advanced technologies into dairy farming practices in order to increase production efficiency, improve animal welfare and the quality of dairy products. When we do that we are, in a very practical way, helping make sustainable food production possible.

As an added benefit, automation technology improves the quality of life for dairy farmers by reducing heavy labour and tedious tasks, from early mornings to late evenings. Many aspects of dairy farming are exceptionally labour-intensive, with many repetitive and standardised tasks. This is an ideal niche for robotics and automation. The farmers of the future will instead spend their time performing tasks such as analysing data and planning farm operations on their computers and mobile phones, and of course, have more time for their animals and families.

The dairy farms of the future will have sensors embedded throughout every stage of their main production processes (feeding, milking, effluent management) and on every piece of equipment. Put differently, the future farm is a “smart farm” where every machine or device on the farm is talking to one another.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is what brings all this technology together and makes it possible to address the problem in a sustainable way. Through IoT-enabled systems, we can feed an enormous amount of data to the dairy farmer. In order for dairy farmers to get actionable information that is easy to understand and possible to base decisions on, we use tools to extract and package data in a useful way. Dairy farmers can then review the data and focus their attention on specific issues that need to be handled rather than wasting time and effort on the parts of the farm that are already running smoothly.

If more dairy farms in the world become so called “smart farms”, we are certainly going to be able to increase dairy production in a more sustainable way thanks to automation technology. As a company built on innovation, DeLaval is committed to continue to find new ways of helping dairy farmers to do more with less – or, to make sustainable food production possible, if you will”.