Topic: The milking robot as driver for dairy farming system restructuration?
Innovation and new technology in agriculture have for decades transformed farming and changed farmer practices. The milking robot, or automatic milking system (AMS), is an important example within family farming in Norway, as in other countries. Dairy farming is part of the foundation of Norwegian agriculture, and now more than 50 per cent of the milk is produced with AMS. At the same time, dairy farming is in a state of major change, where the expansion of AMS and associated volume expansion on the farms is a key factor. This affects, for example, the farm structure, land use, geographical distribution and work/life balance for farmers and households. In this paper, we investigate the research question: How can Norwegian dairy farming develop in the medium terms as an aggregated result of the increased use of AMS? To gain insight into how this system will develop in the medium term, we developed a system dynamics model that simulates changes in system behaviour over time given changes in the dairy farming structure through an increasing use of AMS. The model focuses on the behavioural effects to farm concentration, farm centralisation and fodder importation. We used data from workshops with stakeholders in AMS in dairy farming, statistical data and literature review to both develop the model and initialize the simulation. The results of the simulation are presented in several scenarios.