Thursday, July 7, 2022

Fieldays: Kiwi-German Technology boosts NZ dairying

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The expansion of German giant GEA Farm Technologies in the dairy sector has brought a cross pollination of research and innovation aimed at boosting farm productivity.

This year’s Mystery Creek National Fieldays marked the giant corporation’s first with two New Zealand dairy businesses under its wings.

These were milking equipment company Milfos and hygiene-identification company FIL.

The acquisition of NZ-owned Milfos last year means GEA is represented now in all aspects of dairy operation, from dairy shed equipment to animal identification for mating.

GEA has a presence in NZ through FIL, Milfos, Norbco barn systems, Houle effluent systems and WestfaliaSurge milking equipment.

Milfos co-founder Jamie Mikkelson heads the GEA Farm Technologies business in NZ. 

He said GEA Farm Technologies management appreciated the strength Milfos had in developing milking systems for the pastoral dairy industry. It was a valuable counter to GEA’s strength in confinement systems, which comprised 80% of the global dairy sector.

“The assumption is therefore often made that because it is pastoral, it is low tech. The reality is the systems need to be very robust, efficient tools, as they deal with seasonal periods when demands on systems are very intense.”

The German giant’s strategists could appreciate the strength in Milfos technology to help get a foot in those parts of the world where farming systems fall somewhere between complete confinement and fully pastoral.

The Milfos brand also brought a deep level of research and development, which has remained in its home base of Hamilton.

However, ownership by GEA meant that pool had deepened, with commonalties now capable of being built into equipment from WestfaliaSurge and Milfos, Mikkelson said.

He pointed to sensor technology developed out of GEA’s robotic milking research and being incorporated into developing Milfos technology. Still in the development stage, it is promised to be a game changer for the sector.

GEA’s competency in camera and sensor technology would also bring innovations like cow condition scoring applications that photograph, analyse and monitors dairy cow condition, alerting farmers about weight loss and possible health issues, he said.

Mystery Creek Fieldays was the launch venue for Milfos’s latest milking technology iCore. The display and alert system was designed and built with operator ergonomics in mind, and the ultimate ability to upgrade to “cloud” storage technology.

The Germans have also introduced technology Mikkelson said would help NZ farmers facing greater pressure to control environmental factors of dairying.

This included specialty Norbco dairy barns and robust, purpose-designed Houle effluent equipment.

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