For the second consecutive year, Hamilton-based Dairy Automation Limited (DAL) has been named finalist in two categories of the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards.

The subsidiary of farmer-owned co-operative LIC specialises in manufacturing sensor technology systems for the dairy shed, for real-time on-farm milk analysis.

Its CellSense system is a finalist for the Endace Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product award, and its YieldSense system is up for the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Innovative Agritech Product award.

CellSense meters measure somatic cell counts for early detection of mastitis. It is the only fully automated in-shed in-line somatic cell count sensor in the world.

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YieldSense is a combined full flow milk meter and milk component measurement device for the individual measurement of cow milk in the dairy shed. The six-in-one sensor analyses yield, fat, protein, lactose, conductivity and plant wash.

Both systems provide real-time results while a cow is being milked that farmers can utilise to increase production, reduce treatment costs and make more informed herd management decisions. They also integrate with LIC's Protrack automation systems, so any cows identified by the sensor systems as requiring closer inspection or further treatment will be alerted to the farmer and automatically drafted at the end of milking.

Winners of the 2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Wellington on May15.

Ludemann brings expertise to DairyNZ

The addition of persistence and metabolisable energy (ME) traits to the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) are seen as key targets for Cameron Ludemann in his new role as DairyNZ's Forage Value Manager. Ludemann, originally from a mixed farm in mid-Canterbury, joins DairyNZ, having submitted his PhD thesis last year at the University of Melbourne.

In his thesis he assessed the value of changes in perennial ryegrass traits for Australian dairy farmers. The work was funded through the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre.

A major component of Ludemann's thesis was the assessment of the value of improvements in the ME concentration trait in perennial ryegrass for Australian dairy farmers.

"I am very excited to get the chance to use the methods I developed during my PhD and apply them to the New Zealand dairy industry," says Ludemann.

Although Ludemann recently published a method of assessing the value of pasture persistence, he says adding the persistence trait to the FVI, which now includes only seasonal dry matter yield traits, will present a big challenge.

"How well pastures persist is a hot topic when I talk to dairy farmers, yet when I ask them what they mean by persistence you get many different answers. So we need to come up with a definition that is practical and measurable. We also need to overcome the challenge of finding early persistence indicators that predict how long a ryegrass cultivar might persist before needing renewal," he says.

Silcock resigns

HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock has resigned after being involved in grower representative organisations for 30 years. He played a key role in the establishment of Horticulture New Zealand in 2006 and in the development of the industry's 10/2020 development strategy, with a goal of expanding horticultural sales to $10 billion by 2020.

Horticulture New Zealand president Julian Raine said: "We are sad to see Peter go and will miss his industry knowledge and experience. He has served our industry very well. He leaves on the very best of terms and with our good wishes."

Silcock has accepted a CEO role with another national organisation outside of the primary industry.