pan SRUC seminar by: Chris Bear, Human Geography, School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University, 22nd of January 2015.
Robotic milking technologies are becoming increasingly important in UK dairy farming, as well as elsewhere in Europe and in North America. Robotic milking machines milk cows automatically at any time, without the need for human workers to be present. Cows choose when to be milked, enter the robot, are milked and return to the herd. This seminar reports on recent ESRC-funded research that has explored how the introduction of robots may change the ways dairy farmers manage their farms and businesses, and might affect the farmer-cow relationship. The research drew on semi-structured interviews with robot manufacturers, dairy farmers, vets and farm advisers. The seminar will look at three central themes from the research: 1. How technologies change farm practices. 2. How farmers learn and make decisions 3. Health, welfare and agricultural ethics. In particular, the seminar focuses on how farmers negotiate the new technologies in their everyday practices, and on how robots might be seen as redefining dairy farming.