WP 1: Optimum feeding strategies for dairy cows incorporating grazed grass with AM for various production systems in Europe
This WP is led by SLU and involves TEAGASC, AU, VFL, IDELE, CNIEL, ULg, CDL, SME FARM DK. This WP will establish guidelines on the optimum proportion of grazed grass for different production systems in Europe using AM systems. The experiment will cover different production systems and cover a large range in the proportion of pasture used to be applicable to both extensive and intensive production systems. It will also develop ‘best practice’ feeding strategies to meet various constraints such as variation in grass supply and quality for research, an SME end-user farm (SME FARM DK) and ‘Monitor Farms’. Additionally the influence of number of cows, milking frequency and stage of lactation on milk output per AM unit will be accessed. Furthermore, the influence of cow breed/ type on cow performance of AM in different production systems in the EU will be evaluated.
WP 2: Optimise the integration of AM systems with cow grazing using new technologies
This WP is led by WLR and involves TEAGASC, LTO, AU, IDELE, SLU, ULg, CDL, SME FARM IE. Precision grazing management is critical for the successful integration of AM and grazing. Integrated grazing and AM systems require an even distribution of milking over a 24 hour period in order to achieve a high level of machine utilization, minimal length of cow queues at the dairy and a high ratio of cows to milking unit. In a grazing scenario, precise allocation of grass will be the main motivator for cows to move voluntarily into the AM instillation. A decision support tool will be developed allowing grassland management decisions to be made in an accurate and objective manner. A GPS farm mapping tool will be applied and demonstrated on research farms in different countries. The recording of tracking behavior of dairy cows in AM systems will be evaluated in terms of management decision making. New automated milking technologies such as the mobile AM systems for fragmented farms and carousel AM systems for larger herd sizes will also be studied in grazing environments.
WP 3: Increase the sustainability of an integrated AM and cow grazing milk production system
This WP is led by AU and involves TEAGASC, IGA, WLR, LTO, VFL, IDELE, CNIEL, SDA, CDL, SME FARM DK. This work package will develop a template for sustainability assessment of AM and grazing. This will be developed and tested on research farms initially. It is imperative that farmers are able to assess sustainability themselves, so this template will be put in place on ‘Monitor Farms’. These farms will provide data for analysis. The data will ultimately lead to a sustainability assessment tool developed for farmers to evaluate their own AM /cow grazing system. This will then be finally tested on the SME end user farm (SME FARM DK) in Denmark.
WP 4: Economic assessment of integrated grazing and AM technologies
This WP is led by TEAGASC and involves WLR, LTO, AU, CNIEL, SDA, ULg, CDL. An economic comparison of AM on dairy farms where cow grazing is practiced and where not, will be completed using on-farm data (of similar milking plant design). This on-farm data will be obtained from a group of farms on accountancy networks in France, the Netherlands and Denmark. The financial interaction between capital investment, labour requirements and running costs for integrated grazing and different AM technologies will determined. This will be based on data from both research farms and ‘Monitor Farms’. The most appropriate bio-economic farm model/models will be selected within the context of country or region to evaluate the financial impacts of a variety of innovative feeding and grazing technologies for dairy farm efficiency as identified in WP 1. A web based decision support tool will be developed to assist EU farmers to optimize their farm production system.
WP 5: Dissemination
This WP is led by VFL and involves all partners. The WP will bring together the key results from the other WPs. The website will allow a flow of information targeted at different levels:
- From the RTDs to the SME-AGs
- Between the individual SME-AGs and their direct members and stakeholders within each country
- From the RTD’s to the scientific community internationally as well as to extension personnel in the respective countries
- To the wide group of dairy firmers within the EU
- To relevant Government Departments, policymakers and legislators within the different countries and the EU.
Annual conferences will be held by the SME-AGs in the individual consortium countries. Papers will be presented by key RTD personnel at these meetings and also at international conferences. Papers in technical journals and in the popular press as well as peer reviewed papers will also be prepared by RTDs. Simultaneously, newsletters and factsheets will be circulated by the SME-AGs to their members together with relevant training if appropriate.
WP 6: Co-ordination and Management
This WP is led by TEAGASC who will be assisted in administrative and financial management by the SME CIRCA. It will ensure that the project will be managed in accordance with the Consortium Agreement. A project handbook will be produced so that all WP leaders will be aware of duties, responsibilities and timelines. A Project Management Committee will be established, which will ensure that the WPs progress according to plan, all participants are informed regularly on matters relating to the project, and the methodology for dissemination can be agreed and carried out. Each SME-AG (IGA, LTO. VFL, CNIEL, SKA and CDL) will be responsible for ensuring that the specified research is conducted by the associated RTD in each country (TEAGASC, WLR, AU, IDELE, SLU and ULg, respectively) for the payment provided. This may be measured by progress during the project (which may be evaluated at PMC meetings) and production of ‘Deliverables’.