New Lely robot processes fresh milk on-farm
An automated milk bottling system trialled on a Dutch farm may offer farmers a diversification option into direct sales.

Dairy farmers could process part of their production as liquid milk on-farm and sell it directly to retailers and customers, if a machine developed by Dutch-based farm equipment manufacturer Lely is rolled out commercially.

Lely's Orbiter system, unveiled Wednesday, draws milk from the firm's milking robots, cools it and bottles it for consumption.

"This on-farm dairy processor matches the high quality standards of large industrial-scale processors," said company chief executive Alexander van der Lely. As automated unit remains sealed for better hygiene, "the quality and taste of milk are safeguarded, because direct on-farm processing is much faster and offers a shorter route from cow to consumer," he added.

You can select cows best suited for certain types of milk, such as sports nutrition, and process it on the farm

According to Lely, the Orbiter system can adjust processing steps to deal with different types of milk during the year and adapt to consumer taste. Speaking at the recent congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, Lely vice president Martijn Boelens said: "You can select cows best suited for certain types of milk, such as sports nutrition, and process it on the farm."

This implies that the bulk of supply would continue to be collected for industrial manufacturing.

Lely has been testing the system on a 100-cow farm in Udenhout, the Netherlands and will start supplying Dutch supermarkets from that unit next month under the Mijn Melk brand.


The company plans to test a small number of Orbiter systems on other farms in the coming years. It has not yet published any details on the cost or profitability of on-farm processing.

Boelens said the technology was part of Lely's broader approach to dairying: "We envison a fully robotised farm", where the farmer focuses on making decisions and managing cows that need attention, he suggested.

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Farmer airlifted to hospital following cow attack
The farmer is in hospital following the attack but his condition is not life threatening.

A Cavan man in his 60s was airlifted to hospital following an attack by a cow on a farm in Bailieboro, Co Cavan.

The incident occurred at midday on Tuesday 21 May and the man received “serious injuries”, according to Gardaí.

He is currently in Tallaght University Hospital but his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

Gardaí and HSA are also investigating the death of a farmer involving a tractor which occurred in Fermoy last week.

Ireland waiting for terms of €50m Brussels beef fund - Varadkar
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday about the Brexit beef fund.

Ireland is waiting to see the terms and conditions of the €50m in funding from Brussels before it decides how the Brexit beef compensation is rolled out to farmers, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.

Fifty-million euro in exceptional aid is to be provided to beef farmers given the collapse in beef prices in recent months. Ireland “will have to provide matching funding”, Varadkar said. This brings the total fund to €100m.

He added: “We do not yet have the terms and conditions from the Commission, but as soon as we get them we will be able to develop a scheme and ensure that farmers get the money they need as soon as possible.”

However, speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal on Monday this week, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said that it will be up to the beef industry and the Department of Agriculture in Ireland to decide how the scheme is rolled out.

It will be a matter for Minister Creed to sit down with the beef sector to work out how it’s going to be paid

“We didn’t launch the inter-service consultation within the Commission yet, which we will launch this week,” Commissioner Hogan said on Monday. "Therefore, it will be a matter for Minister Creed to sit down with the beef sector to work out how it’s going to be paid.”

Once the implementing regulation has been adopted by the Commission, it then has to be voted on by the member states in a management committee. It will be following this committee approval that the Department of Agriculture can devise the scheme.

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Call to prioritise farm-scale renewable energy
Low interest rates should help farmers and other citizens to produce green energy on their properties, the industry body MREF has said.

Large-scale Government investment in renewable energy needs to prioritise smaller projects including those on farms, the industry body representing suppliers and installers of equipment has said.

"The Government will have to prioritise and prime the actions needed by homes, businesses and farms with grants and tax incentives in the next budget to incentivise the retrofitting homes, installing renewable technologies and helping businesses and farms adapt new practices and processes to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions,” said Pat Smith, chair of the Micro Renewable Energy Federation (MREF).

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton will announce a national plan to tackle climate change in the coming weeks across all Government departments and agencies. Smith said the country's target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1m tonnes equivalent carbon dioxide every year for the next 30 years could cost €1bn per year.

Low interest loans

“Government must also ensure that there are easily accessible low-interest loans at sub 3% levels to assist homes, businesses and farms address these issues in a planned and economically sustainable way,” Smith said.

He added that access to grid connections for producers of renewable electricity should be reformed. "For example, ESB Networks currently process a maximum of 30 grid applications a year when it is hundreds of connections that will be required."

Smith also called for free grid connections for micro-scale generators, such as rooftop solar panels, and opportunities for farmers and other building owners to export part of the surplus energy into the national grid.

EU directive

Meanwhile, the Council of European Ministers formally adopted the final set of rules forming part of the Clean Energy Package this Wednesday. These include the already-adopted Renewable Energy Directive, which will force all EU member states to allow citizens to sell part of the renewable energy they produce into the grid within two years.

Read more in our focus on renewable energy in this week's Irish Farmers Journal.

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Uncertain renewable energy business 'like beef cattle'

EU approves renewable heat scheme