Categories: Articles, Resource managementPublished On: 10th May 2023

Technews: The latest in agricultural technology from around the world

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The new DeLaval OptiWagon can take specialised premixed feed ratios to different groups of cows.

DeLaval adds feed robot to the mix

The range of DeLaval robots is now being expanded with an autonomous feed distribution robot – OptiWagon. Feeding is one of the biggest costs on a dairy farm and, in addition, the most labour-intensive activity after milking. DeLaval is launching the new robot as a module in its complete automated feeding solution, DeLaval Optimat™.

This total feeding solution provides everything from weighing, cutting, and mixing to delivering the feed to the feed table. It will be available in most European markets shortly. This latest robot is designed as a module for use with the firm’s Optimat stationary automatic feeding system. This mixes the ingredients, which are then conveyed into the tub of the OptiWagon for feeding.

“The new feed distribution robot helps to optimise the conversion of the roughage dry matter into milk. Being able to do this efficiently is a great benefit on a dairy farm,” says Ludo Bols, Feeding Systems Specialist at DeLaval.

“By including the OptiWagon as part of the Optimat system you have an efficient and flexible feeding system that can help to save valuable time and limit energy costs on farms,” Ludo says. DeLaval stands by its concept of having separate products for mixing and cutting, and distributing the feed.

“This way we develop the product to do the job it is meant to do in the best possible way,” says Ludo. Capable of providing various animal groups with a different feed mix up to 12 times a day, the recipes and routes are set up and adjusted via the firm’s DelPro farm management system.

DeLaval says that the Optimat system is installed on more than 600 farms, mainly in Europe. Described as simple and effective, the standard version is suitable for feeding 120 to 130 cows. The master version is a fully automatic feeding solution for dairy herds of up to 1 000 animals. (Source: Delaval.com)

Best accolades for Valtra’s Beast

Valtra’s rewarded Q Series was released last year.

Valtra celebrates another achievement as their Q Series ‘Beast’ received the prestigious Red Dot Award for Product Design. The announcement comes less than six months after their newest tractor, the Q Series was released. The new series suits the higher horsepower segment. The Q Series was released in September 2022, and quickly garnered industry attention, picking up the Farm Machine 2023 Jury Award at the SIMA show in Paris, last November. The Farm Machine jury praised the Q Series for its agricultural contractor focused approach. At 171 to 227,5 kW (230 to 305 hp), the Q Series fills the gap between Valtra’s T Series and their S Series. In test drives, customers have praised the Q Series’ smooth CVT transmission, manoeuvrability, and high level of visibility for such a high-horsepower tractor.

To achieve this, careful consideration has been given to the design of the Q Series. Industrial Design and User Experience Department Lead, Kimmo Wihinen, explains that the best tractor experience comes from listening to the customer: “Customers have been asking for a bigger T Series. We have delivered a completely new tractor. Large farms and agricultural contractors need an efficient higher horsepower tractor but with good manoeuvrability and visibility. Everything from the easy access via the aluminium steps, the all-new powerful integrated front work lights, cab comfort, new roof design, and easy-to-use, fully integrated technology via the SmartTouch user interface, responds to customer feedback. Everything is designed to make the Q Series a comfortable, and well-equipped tractor. It is the best tractor we have ever designed and built here in Suolahti in Finland. We are very happy that the Q Series continues Valtra’s history of winning Red Dot Design Awards.”

Valtra’s previous successes with Red Dot Awards included an award for the T Series in 2016, an Honourable Mention for the N Series in 2017, a win for the A Series in 2018, for the G Series in 2021, and, more recently, a Red Dot Award for the N Series in 2022. Valtra’s Q Series will be on the road heading to various locations across Europe as part of Valtra’s SmartTour 2023. (world-agritech.com)

Automated recharging solution for drones

The Skydock automated battery changing system for drones was developed in South Africa.

Drones can be very useful tools for farm security and crop protection, but short work times with manual intervention due to limited battery power is problematic. Dock-One is Skydock Systems’ automatic drone battery swapping and mission planning solution for DJI Mavic; with other drones to follow shortly. Dock-one is an affordable drone battery swapping station developed in South Africa for the local and international market.

It allows you to fly drone missions 24/7 in an automated fashion. The docking station design was incubated by Roelf Diedericks and Wikus Combrinck during Covid, when a family farm near Mabalingwe Game Reserve in the Limpopo province of South Africa was struck by a spate of night-time burglaries in the surrounding lodges. Manual patrols by the reserve, using a thermal drone, resulted in several arrests, and served as a deterrent for would-be criminals reducing security incidents by 99%. The challenge with staff needed for manual drone surveillance and manual battery swapping is solved by the DockOne docking station.

Paired with the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise drone, DockOne allows you to automatically patrol day and night, and using the drone’s accessories such as the spotlight, or loudspeaker, nefarious activities can be stopped in its tracks. Drones used for crop monitoring and protection in orchards will also be able to continue with their work non-stop. Using the SkyDock/Flight Now system, you can create automated missions and monitor the drone from a centralised location over the internet. The DockOne solution comprises three components, the DockOne docking station, FlytNow mission planning and remote-control software, and the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise drone.

DockOne quick info

• Quick battery swapping docking station.

• 5 batteries on constant charge.

• Weather resistant enclosure, 200W thermo-electric heating and cooling.

• Built-in camera for remote monitoring.

• External LED landing light support.

• 2 x 12v back-up batteries for safe landing in power-outage situations.

• Automated precision landing.

• Dual extended range drone antennas (up to 10 km)

• Built-in 4G/LTE, WiFi, or Ethernet Internet router.

• Remotely accessible dashboard.

• Dimensions (H x W x Depth) : 690mm x 970mm x 920mm

• Weight: 70kg

• Material: Mild steel, powder coated. SkyDock Systems is a division of Byte Heavy Industries (Pty) Ltd, a South African based software and robotics engineering firm. For more information, visit https://skydock.systems/dock-one/

Farm management through “digital twins”

Farmers can now manage their farms remotely by using 3D-technology.

The Swedish innovation platform, Agtech 2030, hosted by Linköping University, has created a digital control room for agriculture. It is called the Agtech Dashboard, AGDA for short, and includes digital twins of farms.

Martin Stenmarck at the technology company HiQ says: “Farmers today have many systems to manage: tractors, machines, milking robots, and silos. Although some integration of the systems has been done, there is still more to be desired. Furthermore, user friendly interfaces are often missing.”

Inspiration from Africa

Fredrik Gustafsson, professor of sensor informatics at Linköping University, says: “We have been inspired by the needs of park rangers in Kenya. In the Ngulia project, new technology was developed for increased protection of rhinos. It is about digitisation, app based field reports, sensor networks and positioning systems. A central part has been positioning and movement analysis in real time. We have now transferred and adapted this to the Swedish agricultural context.” The team has tested advanced functions in the model, for example maps where you can see exactly where each cow has gone in the last 24 hours.

Digital 3D models

The team has also created digital twins. The idea is that the farmer should be able to bring up the entire farm as an interactive 3D model. The model will enable a farmer to get a good overview of his farm and he can more easily plan the work with his team. The information is visual and easy to absorb, you can even see it through VR glasses. Mikael Pettersson, Farm Manager at Rotenberg Manor and part of the team behind AGDA, comments: “The 3D model consists of two models, one overview that includes the fields, and one that focuses on the farm centre. Through this, you can quickly and clearly point to something you want to discuss, for example which solar cells need to be fixed. It will be easy to plan the work and coordinate tasks.”

Lots of photos and videos

Oscar Hoffmann of Linköping University, who created the 3D model, explains: “The model is based on approximately 4 000 still images photographed with drones, as well as images from the ground with a hand-held camera to capture details. The compilation of the images into a 3D model is called photogrammetry. The 3D models also have focal points. Clicking on them brings up photographs and in some cases video in real time.

“This concept gives a foretaste of how future farm management will be possible,” Per Frankelius, Innovation Leader in Agtech 2030 concludes. (world-agritech.com)

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