Increased efficiency in the production of home-grown energy and protein continues to grow in importance for livestock producers throughout North America. Currently, the projected population of 9 billion people by the year 2050 means that our world's demand for food will continue to intensify. Implementing technologies that will increase the output from valuable resources of land and other energy inputs will be a vital consideration for investments made on the "farm of the future".
It can be said that farming today is characterized by rapid changes in technology. An increasing number of dairies are incorporating robotic milking as well as automated feeding to improve their level of management while reducing their demands on labour.
It is estimated that up to 15% of farms today have GPS precision controlled tractors and combines providing an unsurpassed level of efficiency in field and crop production. Sensor based technology continues to develop rapidly providing important management opportunities for the modern farmer.
Unfortunately, in spite of the tremendous advances that continue to develop in many sectors of the industry, on-farm feed storage technology continues to be determined by formulas for packing densities of bunkers, efficient placement of used tires, or reduced OTR (oxygen transmission rates) for plastic that is used for covered/wrapped storage. (The Challenge to Change Farm Credit)
Our country's primary ag-sector lender Farm Credit Canada reported that for the last six months of 2012, farm land values have increased by 10.0% across the country, following average increases of 8.6% and 6.9% in the previous 6 month periods.
Additionally inputs such as fuel and fertilizer prices are up an average of 23% since May 2010 (Ontario Farm Input Monitoring Project)-Economics and Business Group -U of Guelph Ridgetown Campus
As producers consider on-farm storage of their production based on these input values, it should become intolerable to accept the level of losses encountered with even the best managed storage systems that have been mentioned above.
The purpose of any on-farm feed storage system is to minimize losses due to oxidation and shrink from exposure to air. Conventional concrete silos, bunkers and bags must rely on the density of the feed (packing) and its moisture content for the resulting silage acids to pickle the feed in order to preserve the contents.
Today's modern feed storage should be designed to minimize dry matter losses from exposure to oxygen while storing the feed at an optimal level for the intended livestock's performance and health.
Features that reduce the impact on our environment as well as the demand on energy and labour are key requirements to be consistent with the future direction of our industry.
Integrating a controlled feed storage system with the other advanced technologies that are available today for feeding livestock, harvesting crops and milk can provide a new dimension for achieving precision management.
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