Lely Exos grass feeder and harvester

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Lely has now introduced the Lely Exos concept; the first fully autonomous system for harvesting and feeding fresh grass in the shed during the growing season and in conjunction with grazing.

Lely Exos grass feeder and harvester
The Exos can operate in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding system.

In today’s high tech dairy farming world a lot of focus is on gathering and using data from the herd to improve production and efficiencies.

And that was the theme for Dutch dairy equipment manufacturer Lely during its latest Future Farm Days event hosted online, where the company unveiled a concept that it says will take dairy farming to the next level.

Lely has now introduced a new system of harvesting and feeding fresh grass to cows. Plus, it has also launched a new manure system that utilises more nutrients from the slurry and a new decision-support platform.

Lely chief executive Andre van Troost says the farms of the future will be completely robotised, operational 24/7 and based onthe principle of allowing cows to move freely, so they can behave naturally.

"We live in a rapidly changing world where the population continues to grow. We desperately need farmers, because we expect the demand for food to increase by 70 per cent by 2050," van Troost says.

"The impact of farming on the environment is also coming under increasing scrutiny and regulations are becoming stricter. Dairy farmers therefore have to change the way they work to guarantee their future."

All these elements are part of the Lely vision of the farm of the future, incorporating circularity in dairy farming where valuable nutrients are reused, waste is limited, and the emissions of harmful substances are reduced to a minimum.

LELY EXOS

The Lely Exos concept is the first fully autonomous system for harvesting and feeding fresh grass in the shed during the growing season and in conjunction with grazing, Lely says.

The main goal is to harvest fresh grass in fields up to 1km away from the farm to increase the nutritional value of the roughage in the cows’ diet more efficiently, therefore producing more milk from grass.

The Exos is an electric powered machine using GPS to travel to the fields to autonomously mow, load and dispense grass to cows in the shed. Exos can harvest and provide fresh grass to the cows 24 hours a day, saving time and labour for the farmer.

The Exos can operate in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding system and constantly monitors the percentage of fresh grass in the ration. The system also collects data in the field, so that the farmer can respond immediately to the grass supply at any given moment. The first prototypes of the Exos are already operational on test farms, where as much information as possible about the autonomous harvesting of fresh grass will be generated by extensive daily testing.

Lely is also looking at using the system to dose a specific amount of liquid fertiliser adapted to each location in conjunction with its new Sphere system.


LELY SPHERE

Lely also presented a new barn system called Lely Sphere that separates manure and urine, converts nitrogen emissions and creates three valuable types of fertiliser.

"Lely Sphere is designed to help dairy farmers exploit the valuable nutrients in manure to the maximum and thus promote crop growth," Lely head of innovations Korstiaan Blokland says.

"This practical solution is easy to deploy and part of the transition to more sustainable and even more circular dairy farming."

In the Sphere system, manure and urine are separated from each other with the urine flowing through separation strips to the pit, while the manure remains above.

This is the first step to limiting emissions, because separating at the source results in less ammonia in the barn.

The Lely Sphere N-Capture creates an underpressure in the pit and extracts manure gases that are created under and just above the barn floor.

This also includes the remainder of the ammonia formed on the walking surface and the pit. The filter in the N-Capture captures the ammonia and uses acid to convert it into fertiliser.

The Discovery Collector barn cleaning robot regularly sucks up the solid manure, keeping the barn floor clean, and transports this solid fraction to a chosen disposal site.

The three types of fertiliser produced are: mineral nitrogen of mineral fertiliser quality in the discharge water produced by the N-Capture; phosphate and organic nitrogen in the solid fraction; and potassium in the pit.

Official measurements at test farms have shown that total ammonia emissions from barns are reduced by approximately 70 per cent. As an emission-limiting system, Lely Sphere also distinguishes itself by reusing nitrogen as a substitute for chemical fertiliser. Practical tests have shown that 10 to 20kg nitrogen per cow per year can be harvested.

The Lely Sphere has been operational since 2017 and is now running on four test farms. Even though the system has international potential, Lely says it will focus on the Dutch market first while conducting ongoing trials to perfect it.

LELY HORIZON

Lely Horizon is designed to connect data from all relevant equipment and suppliers, even other brands, on the farm in one management system.

"In an ever-changing world where data and digitalisation are key, the dairy farm cannot be left behind. At Lely we feel that it is time to use all available relevant data in an intelligent way," Lely senior product manager Freddie Ruijs says.

"The application provides farmers with the tools to work more efficiently and offers them more control, to help them achieve their goals."

Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely said its ambition is to connect more partners over time.

 

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