SINCLAIRVILLE - Hundreds of farmers and business representatives met at Arline Farm in Sinclairville to discuss a year's worth of innovations in the field of agriculture.
Agriculture Day, or colloquially, Ag Day, takes place once a year in Chautauqua County, and is a gathering of local farmers and nationwide farming-technology business representatives. During Ag Day, farmers are encouraged to wander from booth to booth and look at all the innovations which are being presented by the different business represented.
While the businesses at Ag Day are all trying to push their products, they are also offering farmers a glimpse into the future of farming, whether it is through state-of-the-art automated cow milking machines, disease resistant seeds, environmentally friendly farm equipment, or genetically hardier plants. Though sales matter at the end of the day for many of these representatives, the products they are pushing sell because they have revolutionized farming and agriculture.
New innovations in farming science and technology were featured at Agriculture Day on the Arline Farm in Sinclairville recently.
P-J photos by Remington Whitcomb
INSENTEC ASTREA 20.20 AUTOMATIC MILKING MACHINE
One of the more revolutionary displays at Ag Day was the Insentec Astrea 20.20 Automatic Milking Machine.
With the current and future popularity of organic farming, farmers are learning that cows - which are subjected to a rigid, daily milking pattern - experience more stress and therefore are more temperamental and actually have shorter life expectancies.
In the past, there was little that could be done to avoid setting cows on a daily milking schedule. However, as technology has advanced, machines which allow cows to set their own milking schedule, such as the Astrea 20.20, are helping to make cows more productive and less stressed. Additionally, they help to make more leisure time for farmers, which is something they don't get to enjoy very often.
The Astrea 20.20 milks in a way which is very natural to the cow. The milking process can be broken down into four phases:
The pre-stimulation and cleaning phase of the udder;
The milking phase, with the option of animal specific milking settings;
The removal phase, whereby the current milk flow determines whether removal can take place for each udder part;
The milk-pumping phase, whereby the milk is separated or transferred to the central milk cooling tank depending on its quality.
Dennis Milhoan, representative for Insentec, was there at Ag Day to discuss some of the other innovations the Astrea 20.20 had to offer.
"When you go to farms that have this item, the first thing they say is that they can't believe how quiet it is," said Milhoan. "The cows are not frightened to use it. In fact, they enjoy it because it is so gentle. Some cows that will only milk once or twice a day through traditional methods will come to the machine to be milked four or five times a day because the machine is so gentle with them. While they're being milked, they have access to high quality feed. When they're done, the door opens for them and they're let out to pasture. The cows want to get to pasture because the difference between eating fresh grass and hay in the barn is like the difference to us between cereal and ice cream.
"With this machine, the cows start to get into a rhythm as well," continued Milhoan. "It reduces stress for them because they don't feel the need to produce according to your schedule, but it also reduces stress because the cows know better than we ever could when it is the right time for them to be milked. Altogether, it reduces tension on the cows and frees up time for the farmer. It really is the future of dairy farming."
The machine works using a laser-guided robotic arm which moves four independent pumps.
When the cow enters the stall of the machine, an electronic tag around the cow's neck recognizes which cow it is that has just entered. As cows enter the machine in greater successions, the machine begins to memorize its exact dimensions. This helps the laser-guided arm find the udder more accurately with less searching.
Once the cow is eating and standing still, the laser-guided arm grabs one pump and finds the udder, then places it. The arm continues this until all four pumps are placed.
When the pump is placed, the four aforementioned phases begin. The advantage to having four independent pumps placed by the arm rather than having one large mechanism is that while the cow is being milked, there is no machinery anywhere near it. If by some chance the cow gets frightened and begins to knock against the stall, it is not in contact with any machinery and therefore cannot damage or destroy it.
If a cow begins to move around while being milked by the independent pumps, they simply detach and retract to their home locations. This way, there is no possibility for anything to ever be damaged.
Not only is this method easier for the cows and farmers, it also produces safer milk. According to the manual for the Astrea 20.20, "the Astrea steam cleaning system kills any bacteria, without the need for a cleaning agent, and as such ensures optimum safety in respect of udder health, food safety and less environmental impact. After every milking, the teat cups are cleaned immediately using hot steam provided by the steam cleaning system. Steam cleaning also brings about saving in the use of cleaning agents, plus a cleaner environment."
Currently, the Astrea 20.20 is being used on farms in Europe and Canada, however, only one farm in the United States, which is located near Pittsburgh, has the system. Insentec is seeking to branch out to more American farms. Milhoan stated that the Astrea 20.20's previous success should help Insentec become a common name on American Farms.
THE WINTONS HAPPY TO PLAY HOST
After successive years of Ag Day being held in the northern end of Chautauqua County, the Winton family, who has two adjacent farms in Sinclairville, played host this year.
"They've had this at Cherry Creek for the past four years and it was in Sherman before that," said Monty Winton. "Sinclairville is located in the middle of the county, so it's a good place for it. They needed a really big field - we've got that here. I'm glad they asked us to do it. We're happy to do what we can."
The Wintons have graciously donated their land for Ag Day. They said they are happy to do so and hope they will have the honor of hosting Ag Day in the future as well.
"We know most of the people and vendors here," said Todd Winton. "We're happy to have everyone here. We've been involved with Ag Day for the past 14 years and it's our pleasure to be able to host it this year."