BY BRIAN MOORE
TIME waits for no man or woman and, for the West Cork farmer, the most efficient use of his or her time must be a number one priority when it comes to running a profitable business.
At the Ludgate Agri Tech conference, Laurence Shaloo, a research officer with Teagasc, spoke of the impact new technologies have on the bottom line and why farmers need to operate more efficiently.
‘There is new tech coming on the market every day that offers the farmer more data and efficiencies,’ Laurence said. But our research has shown that some of these new technologies have a zero return for the bottom line. For example, robotic milking parlours are not as profitable as the conventional milking operation.’
While the robotic milking operation provides the farmer with more time to concentrate on other parts of the business, the cost of purchasing and maintaining this unit provides zero profit to the farms bottom line.
Justine Deming, a Walsh Fellow at Teagasc, carried out a farm efficiencies and labour management study as part of her PhD and outlined her finding at Agritech 2017: ‘We looked at dairy farms operating with herds of between 150 and 250 cows,’ Justine said, ‘And we developed an app that allow us to monitor and map the labour on a farm over a 12-month period. This allowed us to map out and identify when the farmer was losing time and when more efficient work practices, increased labour or new technology could be employed.
‘What was interesting was that, while you might expect the bigger the farm is more efficient, this, we discover was not always the case,’ she added.
Laurence Sexton, a dairy farmer from Kilbrittain, was one of the farmers who took part in Justine’s study programme: ‘The study enabled us to pinpoint where we were doing things right and where we needed to improve,’ Laurence said.
‘On a dairy farm it’s all about getting the milk in; that’s the top priority and the time it takes to accomplish this every day is set in stone, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be efficient in other areas. The study was very helpful in showing us where we could improve and the important of having a good reliable supply of labour on the farm.
‘Again, using time to maximise the use of outside labour is key and, for our farm, that means having the best people do the work. That then provides you with the time to concentrate on looking after the bottom line,’ Laurence stated.