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A state-of-the-art robo-tic dairy parlour supporting the development of a dedicated undergraduate dairy engineering qualification is to open at Wiltshire College and University campus at Lackham.
T H White has joined forces with Wiltshire College & University Centre to create the course on the 1,700-acre site which is home to three working farms. The existing 140-cow dairy unit will be augmented with a new robotic milking parlour featuring two of the latest DeLaval VMS V300 robotic milking units, an advanced Bauer slurry control system plus a day/night LED lighting system. The complete project will be controlled by market leading DeLaval software
Students will be introduced to the remarkable technological advancements that are revolutionising the dairy industry and will be able to study engineering and automation in a real-world environment against a background of business management and animal husbandry. As a full-time two-year course it will lead to a level 4 BTEC higher qualification (a HND), or part-time (HNC). With an entry requirement of a level 3 qualification in a relevant subject (many of which are already offered at Lackham), the course will be particularly attractive to 16-18-year-olds pursuing a rewarding career path.
Commenting on the new course, Amanda Burnside, principal at the college said, “We are very proud to have designed and created a dedicated dairy qualification for the sector, aimed at students with a passion for agricultural technology, engineering, science and automation. The new facilities we are building at Lackham, backed by £9million funding from the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, (SWLEP) will be the envy of other farm automation learning providers and will, no doubt, create an amazing training environment for our students.”
Plans for the partnership between the college, TH White and DeLaval have progressed during 2019 and a formal agreement of the joint cooperation has been signed. The initiative is now only subject to planning consent for which an application has been submitted with a decision expected in March. Work on the site will then be expedited, all efforts being coordinated towards the new facility and teaching rooms being ready to open soon after the start of the course in September.
As well as installing the new robotic parlour, T H White will be supporting the course by committing to deliver lecture sessions during the year in which CEO Alex Scott and other senior members of the T H White team will discuss business development and innovation in agriculture, with head of dairy, Nigel Ellis, covering the latest in robotic milking, feeding, fertility and other strategies for increased milk yield.
“We believe this initiative is exactly what is required to address the skills gap in the dairy sector,” said Alex Scott, “and we are delighted to be working in partnership with the college, as well as industry innovator DeLaval to make it happen. The course will lay a pathway to an attractive career combining technology and farming. To expand the range of studies T H White will provide several work experience placements and offer student access to the company’s Frome-based business, from where our expert dairy team operates.”
Ciaran Murphy of DeLaval sees the new course as a great opportunity to attract more technically-minded young people to dairying saying, “DeLaval pioneered the voluntary milking system and today’s robotic arm on the VMS V300 units is quite something to see in action! Not only does it reduce labour requirements, making milking quick and efficient, but it is also comfortable for the cow. Integrating it with our herd navigator software enables constant monitoring of many health and reproductive factors for each animal, resulting in optimum herd management and higher yields.
“By participating in the partnership at Lackham, DeLaval can provide students with the hands-on experience and technical knowledge that will give them a strong career advantage in this fast-changing area of farming,” said Ciaran.
To learn more about the college’s dairy engineering course at Lackham or to apply for a place, go to www.wiltshire.ac.uk. Applications are now open and places for this pioneering course are certain be in high demand.
In front of the impressive Lackham House at the heart of the Wiltshire College campus, some of the people from Lackham and T H White who have worked on the joint dairy initiative. Left to right: Adrian Ford, Amy Colderick, Nigel Ellis, Rob Wheeler, Bob Gallop, Chris Newey, Alex Scott, Amanda Burnside, Mike Howes, Iain Hatt, Andy Hill, Philip Steans, Venetia Summers.