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What Role Will On-Farm Diagnostics Play in Agriculture?

08 October 2014

EDITORIAL - It’s beginning to feel an awful lot like fall here in the Midwest. And last week I got to see some beautiful fall leaves on my drive up to World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, writes Sarah Mikesell, senior editor.

World Dairy Expo: lots of dairy cows, cheese, ice cream and the famous toasted cheese sandwiches made by the University of Wisconsin Dairy Club.

It's a great show for dairy farmers and there were a lot of hot topics surrounding the show. The genomics education session was standing room only - so yes, everyone wanted to hear more. Sustainability through efficiency and comprehensive wellness programs were also very visible. 

The most interesting tech I saw was related to diagnostics – that is, cow-side diagnostics. For many years, you have been able to do a basic CMT mastitis test on milk cows, but now in minutes, the QScout test can provide counts of the three types of white blood cells. This can indicate to the dairy producer if a cow has a serious mastitis case now or if she’s subclinical, meaning she's sick but hasn't even started to show symptoms. It identifies the cell counts by quarter and based on the data, the producer can determine if she’s a "keep and treat" or a cull.

Why does a crop farmer care? Well, it’s all about the data - in crop and in livestock. Diagnostics is one component of data that is certainly going to permeate all of agriculture.  

I want to add that this data can certainly help a dairy producer’s bottom line in lots of ways, but it helps all of us too by reducing the amount of antibiotics that are being used on-farm. And we all know that's important now and for the future. 

To take a look at this new technology from AAD, click here. I suggest watching the short video – amusing and informational.

To see more WDE coverage, click here.

On Twitter Monday night, I was tweeting with farmer Matt Boucher (@boucherfarms) from central Illinois who was on night shift combining and invited questions. So I, of course, asked a few and he kindly obliged. As for yield, he’s “very happy with our bean yields this year and one variety of corn broke an all-time high yield for us today.”

When asked if his neighbors are also harvesting, he said “Not everyone, but there’s a few more every day. I would bet by week's end most everyone will be doing something.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock



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