Fresh air, clean water, fertile soil and biodiversity are prerequisites for healthy and affordable food production. And, with a growing world population, increasing urbanization and supply chain issues, demand for high-quality food has never been more intense.
Milk and milk-derived products play an important role as valuable sources of proteins and fat for human consumption. The question remains, though: how do we deliver nutritious, safe and reliable food for an increasing population with as little environmental impact as possible?
On top of that, it’s critical to empower dairy farmers around the world to manage their operations sustainably and future-proof production in times of tight margins, environmental regulations and increasing complexity.
At GEA, we call this Next Generation Farming. It’s a combination of process automation (milking, feeding, manure management, etc.) plus digital management solutions and a comprehensive service and hygiene consultancy. Our goal is to foster sustainable production, make dairy farming more flexible and make the whole process easier to manage while improving animal welfare.
Innovation, improvement and automated milking
“GEA’s automated milking system, the DairyRobot R9500, is the perfect example of NGF in terms of flexibility, animal welfare and sustainability,” states Michael Berentzen, GEA Senior Market Support Manager for Automated Milking Systems.
"Automatic milking meets the requirements of more flexible dairy farm management. With our platform approach for automatic milking, our customers can milk all cows as individual animals voluntarily or guided in groups. And they can do so regardless of the size of their herd. Every farm chooses its preferred solution."
Beyond flexibility, GEA’s automated milking solutions also set new standards in animal welfare. With the patented In-Liner Everything technology, every step of the milking process — stimulation, teat cleaning, premilking, harvest and post-dipping — is done with a single attachment. This uniform, quick and comfortable process, which all happens within the teat cup, is key to harvesting excellent quality milk while maximizing the efficiency of the robotic milking facility.
As a further benefit, it also prevents the spread of bacteria from teat to teat and reduces the risk of mastitis. “It proactively helps to prevent disease and increase cow health,” adds Michael.
But there are even more advantages. The dipping agent in the In-Liner Everything is applied to both the teat and teat cup, disinfecting both and wetting the rubber surface. This precludes the need for intermediate disinfection with peracetic acid with very few exceptions. Subsequently, the camera and teat cup are cleaned in parallel. These process improvements not only shorten the box time, allowing more milkings per day, they also protect the environment and reduce operating costs.
With NGF in mind, innovation and improvements that accelerate the transition to more sustainable dairy farms are two key drivers for GEA engineers and product teams. “We constantly communicate with dairy farmers about their specific requirements and discuss how we can save time, resources and energy, and be more efficient,” explains Berentzen. “We use that feedback to inform our product management and engineering teams, which is how the latest version GEA’s automated milking system, the DairyRobot R9500, was developed. It’s more efficient and more effectively uses both water and energy.”
Independent test confirms improved efficiency
Transparency is key when it comes to proving the benefits of innovative solutions, which is why the DairyRobot R9500 has built-in electricity and water meters to keep a continuous eye on consumption data. Perhaps more importantly, it was independently tested by the DLG (Deutsche Landwirtschaftsgesellschaft/German Agricultural Society) with convincing results.
GEA has long been involved with the development of a unique global standard with the DLG, the Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture (Bayerische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft [LfL]), the agricultural magazine profi and manufacturers of milking technology. This standard facilitates independent tests and energy/water consumption comparisons amongst equipment suppliers.
During a trial at the DLG test center in Groß-Umstadt (Hesse, Germany), a team of GEA technicians and engineers set up a complete robot milking installation. “This project was an enormous undertaking but has been worth all the effort; we’re very proud of the collaborative teamwork and the results we obtained,” summarizes Michael Berentzen. “We’re now even more convinced that existing technologies and solutions, combined with engineering creativity, can make a big difference and will accelerate Next Generation Farming.”
The key benefits of the GEA DairyRobot R9500 include:
- The DairyRobot R9500 single box uses up to 37% less energy, representing 1.4 kWh per 100 L of milk*
- Up to 35% less energy required in standby-mode: even when your system isn’t milking, it still consumes electricity, which why we’ve reduced energy consumption here as well*
- 13% less water consumption: the DairyRobot R9500 1-box system uses only 35 L/100 L of tank milk*
*Compared with the previous model in the 2018 DLG test.