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Introducing our new technology test-drivers

Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley Published on 06 February 2014

At Progressive Dairyman, we get to see and write about the coolest new technology available to today’s dairy farmers. These advancements often save time, increase revenue, maximize resources – and sometimes do all three.

Marketers of these products know that our first question to them will be: Can you put me in touch with a producer who has used this product?

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We want to know how it works in practice, not just in theory. I’m sure you think the same way. You love reading these types of New Technology articles. (In fact, you can read one by clicking here .)

For one such article last year, I interviewed Lake Breeze Dairy Group’s Brian Gerrits about new Web-based margin-tracking software his dairies were using to keep tabs on their profitability in real-time. I thought the software hit a sweet spot and would be adopted quickly by many. Who wouldn’t want to know their profitability margin at any given time?

When I talked with the software’s developer, Mark Linzmeier, at World Dairy Expo last fall, he said that dairymen were interested in his product, but adoption was still slow. As with all things technological, a deterrent could be the cost. But I started to wonder: If the price tag were removed, would dairymen use it? If they did, would they find it as useful as I thought they might?

Out of that experience was born the concept of our new Progressive Dairyman peer technology group.

The group will allow invite-only producers free access to some of the newest technology available from forward-thinking companies. We’ve hand-picked the technologies we think have promise, and we’ve negotiated with the companies for our group’s producers to use them for free for one year.

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How did we pick the producers? For our first group, we’ve reached out to some of the producers who have participated in our past World Ag Expo video tours. (Read the feature about a current video-tour dairy here .) In most cases, we’ve spent significant time with them, as much as two days.

With that intimate knowledge of their goals, priorities, current technology use and appetite for more, we extended our invitations. We appreciate their willingness to participate.

How did we pick the technologies? Editors independently selected from technologies meeting three criteria: new to the marketplace (within 18 months), a non-capital asset and potential to impact profit margins, enhance product quality or streamline existing protocols. (In other words, we didn’t want to just play with new toys. We wanted to find products that could really be game-changers.)

We’re not getting any kickbacks from these providers. For the free use of these technologies, the producers have agreed to be interviewed and will be publicly identified in a series of articles that will run throughout the year.

We will follow the producers’ experiences with the new products and write articles about how they are being used on the participating dairies. Click here to read about the first two producers committed to our peer technology group and the technology they will be test-driving.

One of my goals for the article series is to discover the most valuable applications of these new technologies on a dairy farm. If they prove to be valuable, I hope the public vetting of their potential uses will speed the adoption of these new technologies in the industry.

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I have another goal through moderating this group: Get to the bottom of how producers perceive, evaluate and then eventually invest their own money for new technology.

In our industry, it seems the time from early adoption to mainstream use is long. Yet, at the same time, I believe that once the tipping point is reached, adoption accelerates rapidly. What are those tipping points?

A coffee shop conversation between one producer and another? A consultant’s passing comment at the end of a visit? A magazine article? I hope the last one proves to be true – to the benefit of all. PD

  • Walt Cooley

  • Editor-in-chief
  • Progressive Dairyman
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