The dairy farming industry pulls together for a more sustainable future

This year’s ICAR was focused on breeding for more sustainable and efficient dairy production and joining forces to find new ways to get more value from global DHI data.


We caught up with Head of RMT segment, Ramona Molnar and Segment Product Manager, Lone Vejgaard who represented FOSS at the event for a quick chat about this year’s topics and trends at ICAR.


The theme at this year’s ICAR was breeding for excellence. “There is a great synergy across the industry at the moment in terms of breeding for more sustainable and efficient dairy production,” says Ramona Molnar. “There is lot of valuable information in the global DHI data that is already being collected and the question is whether it is possible to get even more value from global DHI data in the future,” she continues. 


“Exploring new sources and uses of data generated by infrared analysis was one of the topics with a lot of potential,” agrees Lone Vejgaard. “We saw a strong interest in finding new ways to extract more value out of the same spectra,” she explains. 


Lone Vejgaard participated in an afternoon workshop called extra-MIR, dedicated to exchanging ideas and discussing how to collect global data from different FTIR instruments with the purpose of generating global standardized analysis models. 


The extra-MIR project is focused on bringing global data together with a goal to identify new traits that enable breeding for more resilience of livestock in the future. The project is still in the development phase. However, one of the first projects being looked at in this context is collecting data to create a reference set for analysis of fatty acids. “It’s an interesting idea and we are not there yet. But it just shows that a lot of energy is currently going into the development of new standardized methods and covering new ground,” Lone Vejgaard concludes.

We saw a huge focus on tackling the challenges: climate resilience, breeding for more productivity, resilience, lactation and health. And for this we need data!
Ramona Molnar

There is no doubt that sustainable production and climate change are the main drivers behind this year’s theme. “We saw a huge focus on tackling the challenges: climate resilience, breeding for more productivity, resilience, lactation and health. And for this we need data! Data to improve feeding efficiency, improve productivity and reduce GHG emissions with specific focus on methane and nitrogen intensity,” explains Ramona Molnar. 


DHI analysis isn’t new as an important source of decision making in terms of breeding for productivity and yield. DHI data is the bread and butter of the dairy farming industry. “What is new, is this vision to pull together as an industry and create a global database from which to start profiling livestock and bringing farmers and researchers together to find new parameters and new business potential,” explains Lone Vejgaard.


Decades of data 

Collecting data, building databases and creating standardized models is an area of expertise for FOSS. “Standardizing spectra is something we have been doing at FOSS for more than 20 years, so as a data company we are very excited to be on this journey,” says Lone Vejgaard.


However, collecting data is one thing, making it applicable for farmers in their daily business is another. “In this context, digitalization is an elemental part of moving forward as an industry and in a sense, we are still in the early phases of what can be done in terms of integrating DHI data, reporting etc. But this is an agenda that we at FOSS really believe in. We are constantly striving to innovate and expand digital tools to make complex data easily available and bring practical value for farmers and help secure a more sustainable future,” concludes Ramona Molnar.

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