The overall winner was Graeme Heaven, of Pokeno with his entry which described using a solenoid, digital timer and automatic sprinkler in the yard which has halved yard wash time (from 30 to 15 minutes) and reduced water use by 25 percent.
Chief judge Mel Eden said Graeme’s entry showed that with a little ingenuity and great use of technology, a standard practice can move to the next step.
"This idea has the potential to save a lot of time and reduce water use for wash down – all for a very small cost," said Mel.
Entries for the competition were received in three categories: the way we do things; gadgets, gizmos and gear; and harebrained schemes (funny but impractical ideas that were trialled but didn’t work).
Competition organiser and Milksmart project manager Chris Leach says DairyNZ wants to celebrate and share the ideas farmers have for doing things in the farm dairy that make the job easier or more pleasant.
"Some people think milking efficiency and innovation is all about huge breakthroughs that have never been done before – and sometimes that’s true,” says Chris. “But we believe it’s the small things that count and many of the entries we received showed that small, low-cost improvements can add up to making a big difference."
For his winning entry, Graeme receives flights and accommodation for two to Australia to the value of $2000, thanks to Orbit Hamilton, the corporate arm of Calder & Lawson House of Travel. Graeme’s entry was the winner of the 'gadgets, gizmos and gear' category.
The way we do things
Paeroa farmer Matt Allen won the ‘the way we doing things’ category.
His entry described how changing the focus from targeting a somatic cell count of under 400 to less than 100 meant less stress, less cost and less time spent looking for problems.
Judges said this rationale could apply to other farm situations, taking the focus off ‘the stick’ and onto an aspirational target which is more motivating and less stressful for staff.
The best entry in the ‘harebrained schemes’ category was to replace the annoying backing gate beeping with Abba music, submitted by Reporoa’s Kyle Brennan.
Kyle reports that, unfortunately, cows listening to ‘Money, money, money’ pumped out no more milk, but the staff got pretty good at karaoke singing. Judges particularly enjoyed this well-written and humorous story.
As winners in each category, Graeme, Kyle and Matt all take away a Samsung Galaxy mini smartphone from Telecom NZ.
Several ideas were submitted for monitoring milk temperature and checking the cooling system, with temperature displays in the milking area making it easy to see that everything was working properly.
A large shipping anchor rope used as a yard scraper works well for one farmer, while old carpet laid down on the race as it transitions to concrete reduces stones on the concrete and stops the race from wearing away where it meets the concrete.
Cheap exfoliating gloves from the $2 shop featured in a couple of entries – apparently they do a great job of quickly and efficiently cleaning cups, hoses and rails in the farm dairy.
Several entries made milking more enjoyable by playing music while milking and brightening up the farm dairy’s interior by removing some roofing iron and replacing it with corrugated clear light plastic.
Mel Eden said judging was difficult.
“As we puzzled through the list trying to identify winners, it was increasingly apparent that there were many entries of merit,” says Mel.
“Lots of brilliant ideas indicated yet again that farmers are continually thinking as they go about their chores – constantly looking for better, easier, more effective ways to improve the efficiency of their already-efficient operations.”
Milking Smarter Not Harder competition results
|The way we do things||Change the focus
Changing the team target of a somatic cell count of under 400 to less than 100 meant less stress, cost and time spent looking for problems
|Matt Allen, Paeroa|
|Gadgets, gizmos and gear||Automatic sprinkler to wet yard
Using a solenoid, digital timer and automatic sprinkler in the yard halves yard wash time (from 30 to 15 minutes) and reduces water use by 25 percent.
|Graeme Heaven, Pokeno|
|Harebrained schemes||Musical backing gate
The annoying backing gate beeping was replaced with Abba music.
|Kyle Brennan, Reporoa|
The winning ideas and several others the judges considered had merit, will be showcased at the DairyNZ Milksmart events around New Zealand in February and March.
Milksmart 2014: the next generation
For more information on the programme and to register, visit http://dairynz.co.nz/milksmart.