Today's leading-edge dairies are already employing new technologies – with the help of development grants in many cases. But technology comes at a high cost – meaning risks as well as benefits.
That's why the Penn State Dairy Alliance will be offering a series of dairy technology conferences at sites across Pennsylvania, starting in February. "In the next five to 10 years, many dairies will be faced with the challenge of either modernizing or expanding their business model," says Brad Hilty, information management specialist for the alliance.
"Existing and emerging technologies will play a big role. And every dairy producer must think about the risks and benefits that technology adoption will have," he adds. Whether you consider adding a biogas digester, robotic or other milking system, mechanical ventilation, etc., you must understand (and analyze) the financial, technical and operational risks that will be encountered."
Each one-day conference will be followed up by a workshop addressing specific technologies. Here's the schedule:
Where, when and what's covered
Blair County: The February 17 conference will be held at the Arena Restaurant, Bedford. On March 9, the following workshop will explore: robotic milking, cow comfort, milking center upgrades, on-farm non-ag profit centers, grazing, and biogas generation.
Mercer County: A February 18 conference will be held at Mercer County Extension Office in Mercer. The March 11 follow-up workshop will cover: cow comfort, alternative energy, milking center upgrades and seed technologies.
Harrisburg area: The February 24 conference will be at the Four Points Sheraton in Harrisburg. The March 16 follow-up workshop, held at Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, Pa., will explore: robotic milking, cow comfort, information systems, milking center upgrades, on-farm non-ag profit centers, grazing and biogas digesters.
Bradford County: On February 25, this conference will be situated at the Troy Fire Hall at Troy. The March 18 follow-up workshop, at Edgewood Restaurant in Troy, will cover: robotic milking, cow comfort, milking center upgrades and biogas generation.
Each conference will include presentations on identifying and evaluation these risks and benefits. It'll also include informational sessions about specific current and emerging technologies, plus a producer panel discussion by those who've adopted the technologies.
Dr. Mark Armfelt, dairy public affairs lead for Elanco Animal Health, and Dr. Roger Cady, senior technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health, will be the keynote speakers at the conferences. Additional speakers will include Dr. David Galligan, professor of Animal Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine; and faculty and staff from Penn State Dairy Alliance, Penn State Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Penn State Cooperative Extension.
For a complete agenda for each site, go online to www.das.psu.edu/dairy-alliance/education/technology. Pre-registration is required.
The registration fee is $80 per person to attend both the conference and follow-up workshop; $55 for each additional person per business. To register, call the Penn State Dairy Alliance office, toll-free, at 888-373-7232. To register online with your credit card, visit the program Web site listed above.