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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Milking robots improve working conditions but decrease profit

Credit: SLU, milking robot 
The first automatic milking system (AMS) was installed in the Netherlands in 1992 and came to Sweden in 1998. In 2009 there were about 8000 farms worldwide using AMS and 28 per cent of the Swedish cows were milked in an AMS at the end of 2011.

A new study of Swedish agro researchers Karin Bergman and Ewa Rabinowicz at Agrifood Economic Centre in Lund, Sweden, comprising adopters and non-adopters of an automatic milking system (AMS) in Sweden, shows that farmers report non-profit-related reasons as the most important for the decision to adopt an AMS, whereas profit-related reasons are the most important for the decision not to adopt the AMS. Despite problems with profitability, over 90 per cent of the AMS farmers would recommend the AMS to other milk producers. A probit estimation of the probability of investing in an AMS finds positive effects of the social network, positive beliefs of future profitability and existence of a successor, and negative effects of age, experience, education, share of tenured land and regular use of advisors. According to the Swedish researchers only 18 per cent of Swedish farmers reported increased profitability, whereas 32 per cent reported decreased profitability. But 36 per cent reported an increase in the production of milk per cow. Hence, there is some ambiguity concerning the efficiency of this new technology. One should also keep in mind that this study only covers 16 per cent of all Swedish milk producers and that there could be some bias in the results.

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