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SUNY Morrisville adds robotic milking equipment to dairy program

SUNY Morrisville
With help from $1.36 million in congressionally directed spending, SUNY Morrisville is adding three robotic milkers to its dairy program. The new technology will provide new learning opportunities for students and help the college provide training to dairy farmers. (Submitted photo/SUNY Morrisville)

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — SUNY Morrisville’s dairy program is getting new equipment to put its agriculture students on the cutting edge of the industry.

The school is crediting $1.36 million in congressionally directed spending through U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the college announced in a press release.

The school will use the funds to purchase three robotic milkers for the college’s Arnold J. Fisher Diary Complex, a free-stall dairy facility and learning laboratory for students, which houses 185 milking cows, an electronically enhanced milking parlor, and a student-managed computer system. Robotic milking is a voluntary milking system that allows cows to set their own milking schedule.


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“By integrating robotic milking technology, we are positioning our Arnold J. Fisher Dairy Complex as a leader in innovative and sustainable dairy practices,” Tony Contento,dean of the School of Agriculture, Business & Technology, said in the school’s announcement.

The project will allow faculty and students to train on robotic milkers, but also allows them to develop protocols for the rest of the dairy industry, train local farmers, and allows the complex act as a hub of innovation and progress as the dairy industry involves.

“These funds were extremely competitive, and we are so grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for working tirelessly to bring these funds to SUNY Morrisville so that our faculty and students can lead the way in the agriculture industry,” SUNY Morrisville President David Rogers said.

The new robotic milking units will help students gain firsthand experience with cutting-edge dairy technology as they observe cow behavior, learn about automated milking processes, and analyze the data collected by the system. This will help prepare them for successful careers in the modern dairy industry.

The college will also be able to offer new workforce development and microcredential training opportunities to dairy farmers and industry partners from around the state.

The system will also result in improved animal welfare as cows are allowed to choose when they want to be milked, which may lead to reduced stress and improved overall cow health. Milk production and collection efficiency may also increase as the system operates 24/7, allowing the college to optimize its dairy operations and potentially expand its educational and research activities.

Finally, robotic systems generate valuable data on milk production, cow health, and milking behavior. This data can be used to refine milking practices, identify potential health issues early, and ultimately improve herd management. The new practices will become a foundation for curriculum updates and industry training bootcamps.

“Dairy is New York’s primary agricultural product, and it’s critical that our future farmers get direct experience with the latest technology in the industry,” Gillibrand said.

“This award will help catalyze the development of transformative and innovative agricultural technology right here in the heart of Central New York, and it will help upstate New York’s dairy industry to grow and prosper, ensuring our rural farmers can take on 21st century challenges and are prepared for the future of the industry,” Schumer said.

In combination with the school’s new dairy and specialty crops incubator, the new technology benefits students and faculty and contributes to the advancement of the dairy industry in New York, Ashley Marshall, associate professor of dairy science noted in the release.

“The investment in dairy robotics is evidence of the importance and support of the dairy and agricultural programs at SUNY Morrisville now and well into the future,Marshall said.

SUNY Morrisville’s Arnold R. Fisher Dairy Complex, located on the west side of Eaton Street, features two growing heifer barns, weaned heifer barn, calf barn, maternity barn, and a livestock/show barn to provide students with a true hands-on experience. The college’s 500 acres of cropland ensure a supply of forages for the herd.

It serves as a real-life learning laboratory that complements SUNY Morrisville’s curricula that are enriched with applied learning at both its Morrisville and Norwich campuses.


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