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Learning support for new users of dairy management information systems

Callum Eastwood, David Chapman and Mark Paine

Faculty of Land and Food Resources, The University of Melbourne, Vic 3010.


The use of automation for herd management in Australian dairy farming systems is still in its infancy, with approximately five percent market share. Automation is based around the use of electronic identification (EID), a management information system (MIS), and associated sensor technologies such as milk meters, conductivity sensors, and pedometers. While dairy equipment retailers have long histories in providing milking related products to farmers most products are ‘plug-and-play’, requiring minimal additional learning for farmers. However, MIS use requires post-purchase farmer learning and management adaptation for months or years after initial installation. Semi-structured interviews of 14 service providers in the dairy industry were conducted to uncover issues and provide the boundaries for a more focussed investigation into the use of MIS on Australian dairy farms. This work forms part of a wider PhD study into the topic.

Three key learnings: (1) dairy equipment suppliers are currently struggling with the transition from technical support to information technology support partially due to organisational structures and current lack of automation market mass to justify dedicated IT staff; (2) dairy technicians can lack experience with providing significant and ongoing post-purchase training and learning support and technicians themselves can struggle with computer literacy, and; (3) retailers need to show commitment to their MIS products by investing in, and implementing, structured user support packages to expand MIS utilisation in the future.

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