Automated Farming Systems

Working smarter rather than harder’, is a saying that many of us use to describe the action of thinking a task through before we undertake it.

Additionally the saying of ‘if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got’.

So let’s rip up the box for a second and talk about livestock agriculture not as it sits today, but as it will be in the future. Let’s consider that the digital age has created new opportunities to change livestock farming as we know.

Farming is changing around us, it’s quickly becoming in a word ‘computerised.’ New technologies such as robotic milking or AMS farm systems are here to stay and will not doubt one day take over the vast majority of milking in time.

However, robotic milking gives rise to a different way of thinking for farm Managers.

It takes away some of the elements of control that we have over the animals actions and relies on the concept of voluntary animal movement, where the cow is the decision maker on when milking time will occur and the farmer is the manipulator of the environment in which she is surrounded.

This makes the farmer in essence a coach, rather than a dictator of an animals actions.

This entirely new philosophy behind animal management systems is created by a simple technology known as RFID or EID technology, which gives rise to the ability to treat an animal as an individual within the digital world.

An animal can be assigned to a series of manipulating actions which is based on a system of pre-programmed computerised decision-making. This gives rise to the ability for a cow to not only milk herself, but to complete a variety of tasks that would normally have required human physical intervention.

Coaching can be used to create an environment where the animal acts in accordance with the desired outcome of the activity within the farm system. 

However, the ability to coach an animal to complete a task which would normally have required restrictions created through human intervention is not limited to just the milking of cows. For example, the utilisation of GPS has the capability to create fence less farms. Where cattle can be coached through the use of audible sounds and electric shock collars in a similar method as that already used in dogs.

Yet, these new systems will not be for everyone, as they require a change in mindset to coaching rather than controlling by farm managers.

A change where a farm manager must stand and watch an animal make mistakes and act under its own freedom of choices with minimal intervention.

This change in mindset has the capability to change the entire world’s livestock industries.

It opens the door to new opportunities to automate numerous tasks that require human intervention and creates the opportunity for livestock farm managers to work smarter rather than harder; to coach rather than control.

Will you take up the position of coach in your business?


Hamish 'Griff" Clarke is a Deer and Dairy Farmer in Otorohanga, who is passionate about Agriculture, food, personal well-being, leadership and Innovation.

Follow his Facebook public figure page Griff Clarke or Tweet him Griff_Clarke.