WASHINGTON AG NETWORK – GLENN VAAGEN – The agriculture industry is always looking for ways to be more efficient and save money. That’s where 21st century technology meet the oldest profession on earth. Dairy is one of the industries where individual farmers are looking at robots and artificial intelligence to improve their operation.
Dairy farmer Leroy Plagerman recently installed eight robots on his farm in Lynden. Plagerman said while saving on labor costs was one of the most attractive parts of installing the robots, he said there’s more.
“Then secondly all of the data information that we can get on our cows, and the management abilities that we have as a result of having the robotics doing our milking for us now.”
Plagerman said after having the robots for months, there is no doubt the machines work and they do their job efficiently. But, the question producers need to ask themselves, will installing the robots pencil out in the long run? Plagerman said in his experience the robots currently work best for medium sized operations with roughly 500 cows.
“When you have a large efficient parlor, and you put a lot of cows through there, it’s a little bit harder to justify doing the robots. They figure labor needs to be almost $36.50 per hour before it starts penciling in. And we’re not there yet.”
Picture: Leroy and his daughter Jana with a dairy robot