The shortage of labourers in agriculture is being compensated by maximum automation of processes and robotization, says the board chairman of Association of Agricultural Statutory Societies and board member of Latvian Agricultural Organization Cooperation Council Kaspars Melnis.
He admits technologies have developed rapidly in recent years. This includes the technologies used in animal husbandry. «It is like comparing the first telephone to the modern smartphone – it is an enormous development leap,» said Melnis.
He also said modernization is on ongoing process in all sectors, but each one has its own specifics. For example, building a modern farm is an enormous financial project that often costs more than EUR 2 million.
«This is why in order to implement such a project, farmers perform in-depth research and planning, as well as pick the most accessible technologies,» he said, adding that a modern farm needs to be active for several decades and remain competitive across all these years.
According to the chairman of this association, the desire of modern farms to modernize and automate everyday processes can be explained with the shortage of labourers and the risk of this issue getting worse in the future. «At the same time, it is necessary to stress that new and modern barns provide better working conditions, which is something planned ahead in the project development stage. I cannot imagine a farm that does not have a leisure room, shower or locker room for workers,» said Melnis.
Farming equipment distributor SIA GEA Farm Technologies Baltic branch manager Andris Kurgs says experience shows that modernisation of the cow milking process is mainly observed among small and medium-sized cow farms that have 50 to 400 cows, because these farms are the ones that suffer from shortage of labourers the most.
«However, automation does not mean the introduction of new machinery or robots specifically – it most often means modernization of existing machinery to make the delivery of animal feed easier, for example,» comments Kurgs.
He also explained that the choice to modernize existing machinery depends on the size and composition of the far. This trend is observed mostly among small and medium-sized dairy farms in Vidzeme, Latgale and even Kurzeme.