NOTHING excites a farmer more than a cost-effective solution that can be practically implemented without major cost and disruption on farm. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make it easier.

In this rapidly changing, technologically advanced industry it may be refreshing to find an easier answer to a quandary, and if it’s seen as consumer friendly by being good for the environment through being sustainable and saving energy, then it’s a win-win.

A recent farm open day in Norfolk afforded me the chance to see two concepts that may have major mileage for Northern Farmer readers in an issue focusing on innovation.

Firstly, how do we really ensure teats are clean and free of all contamination prior to attaching the milking unit?

Teat preparation is even more important if the milk is going directly into food production, without heat treatment, as is the case with Baron Bigod a Brie style raw milk cheese, produced by Jonny Crickmore and team at Fen Farm Dairy near Bungay.

To this end he found that after dipping the teats wiping them with cloths still did not get into all the nooks and crannies on the teat surface and orifice, and it was creating a big washing pile that tested even the largest industrial washing machine, as well as using large amounts of electricity every day to run it.

He therefore found his solution in the very packaging material he sent his cheese out to customers in - wood wool, which is eco-friendly and biodegradable, and can therefore go out with the farmyard manure and slurry.

Meanwhile its structure cleans the whole teat surface, ensuring this farm runs at single-figure bactoscans, and most importantly after stripping the teat, applying a foam dip and then drying and cleaning the teats with the wire wool there is no moisture remaining on the teat before milking occurs.

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Water recycling as energy efficiently as possible is also undergoing restructuring at Fen Farm. Current electric usage costs around £44,000 per annum. With huge expenditure on electricity in both the cheese plant and the dairy, finding means by which to reduce this fixed cost have always been at the forefront, and when the new loose housing shed was built solar panels were installed on the roof.

Now, as it is being extended, a mile of alkathen (MDPE) pipe has been zigzagged underneath it. As the ground water runs at 45 degrees from cows’ body heat and bedding, and the water from the compressors and plate coolers is pushed into the pipes at 65 degrees, it now takes less than 50 per cent of the energy to take this water up to the 85 degrees needed for circulating and cleaning the plant, and some of the heated water can be used to heat the maturation rooms for the cheese.

This is reversing the trend of wasting heat, by creating a far greener method of heat dissipation.

And finally maximising dietary intakes and minimising wastage of feed, in this instance the technology is not new but the need and benefits perhaps need reiterating.

Either way, cows are far happier eating from a smooth surface. The new shed at Crickmores has perimeter feeding with a tiled surface, but application of resin will have the same desirable end result, particularly if the concrete there has seen better days.