Faced with acute shortage of farm labour, Australia’s dairy sector is looking for a solution in robotic dairies. According to experts, farmers require more support in terms of research and information to hasten the adoption of high-tech equipment involving robots.

In Australia, automatic milking systems had been in place for the last 10 years even though its uptake had been tardy at 40 conversions in the whole country. Dairy Australia’s Liz Mann suggested an increase in the uptake of robotic dairy could ease labour shortages in the milk industry.

According to Marcus Crowden, a dairy farmer in northern Tasmania, it was tough in the first year when he set up his robotic dairy in 2012.

“I think I was about the eighth or ninth farmer in Australia and probably only about the third or fourth pasture-based one in Australia which probably made it the 10th in the world.”

Crowden joined hands with Tasmanian researchers on a ‘Focus Farm’ project in securing more information for helping interested milk farmers, reports The ABC.

“It’s to get the right information out there. I got a lot of European myths which don’t so much work in Australian pasture-based systems,” he said.

Crowden also cited many lateral benefits. “To be able to run this farm effectively, we need one full-time equivalent per 300 cows and the home farm is one worker every 100, 120 cows,” he said.

According to Crowden, one of the biggest benefits was the gain in herd health. Alexis Perez from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture also noted the huge growth potential inherent in the sector.

“There is more opportunity particularly for those running small farms,” he said and added that the industry has grown 125 percent in the last three years.

Meanwhile, Dairy Australia and Australian Dairy Farmers announced a sector-wide approach for grooming leadership talent in the dairy industry.

The Emerging Dairy Leaders Program (EDLP) seeks to hone leadership skills over a period of 12-months.

“The program is about participants learning to understand themselves and others better while improving their communication skills,” Dairy Australia’s program manager Karen Conrad said.

Australian Dairy Farmers chief executive officer Ben Stapley welcomed the new program and said emerging leaders could develop their skills by expanding their involvement with the industry, reports ADF Farm Online.