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FEATURE: Industry collaboration the key to farming of the future

Monday 13 Nov 2023

At Myerscough College and University Centre, we’re proud to boast a wide range of cutting edge, sector leading technology, across our Lodge and Lee Farms, and our Food and Farming Innovation and Technology (FFIT) Centre.

Lodge Farm

This week, professionals from the agriculture industry from across Lancashire and Cumbria visited Myerscough College’s Lodge Farm to see the technology in action, and meet staff, and share collaborative thinking.

A lively discussion took place covering a number of topics including the challenges faced currently within the agriculture sector, and how these can be overcome by collaborative working between key education providers such as Myerscough, and the people at the heart of the sector locally and regionally, can best serve a very diverse area.

Among the sector leading technological advancements at the farm, is the installation of three Lely Astronaut robotic milking units. These supersede the previous milking parlour and AfiMilk technology employed at the farm in recent years.

The primary role of this system is to automate the milking process, allowing cows to access the milking process whenever they want to, also reducing the amount of labour required to milk the cows.

As the cow is free to milk on her own routine, cows which give higher yields visit the robot more often, leading to an increase in the total lactation yield for that animal. The robots also have a system which optmises the amount of concentrate feed for the cow’s milk yield, leading to reduced feed costs and greater efficiency of milk production.

Find out more about some of our sector leading farming technology here

Find out more about our range of agriculture, agricultural engineering and veterinary nursing study programmes here, all available now to apply for 2024 entry.

Addressing the meeting, Wes Johnson, Chief Executive and Principal, said: ‘’Everything we do should be shaped by our employers.

‘’As a technical education provider, the real judge of the quality of what we’re providing should be when our students arrive (in the industry) as an employee of the future, or how we support you and your business to develop.

‘’It’s really important that what we do as a college recognises the industry. We know agriculture across Lancashire and Cumbria is really diverse, and as a college we need to understand your needs and shape our curriculum to meet those needs, both now and in the future.

‘’This a two way street. If you can give us some time to help us shape our curriculum, then we can produce graduates much better placed to enter your industry.

‘’If our students aren’t getting the skills, the knowledge and the behaviours you need, we also need holding to account too. You have the great jobs, our role is to fill that gap. One of the key challenges at the moment is skills shortages. Together, we need to attract more people into land-based careers.

‘’We can go into a school and say ‘these are the fantastic jobs, this is the career path to get there’, and that’s much more powerful.

‘’We also recognise the industry is changing. So we need to use our facilities to not only train the next generation of the workforce, but also demonstrate how the technology can make a difference.

‘’Sessions like this open up the conversation. We all have a vested interest. We all want the best people to be attracted to work in the land-based industry, and as a college we recognise our responsibility, but ultimately, we are more powerful together.’’

Andrea Gardner, Director of Farm Operations and Innovation, added: ‘’We are part of the school of sustainable farming, and as a college we work to show industry best practice in reducing carbon emissions, increasing efficiency and improving productivity.

‘’We work with local stakeholders to achieve this. We host a number of events that promote the farm and the college, in addition to the farm for the future programme, that we run across Lancashire.

‘’The farm is fully engaged in the college’s strategic goals of people, learning and sustainability.’’