Data for Dairies: Supporting Farms’ Financial Success
Trade tensions and tariffs, following years of low crop, milk, and beef prices, have been taking their toll on Minnesota farms—and for many farmers, preparing for the spring means taking on still more debt.
A researcher at the University of Minnesota aims to help dairy farms survive and thrive through current financial pressures. Joleen Hadrich, Ph.D., U of M Extension specialist and associated professor in applied economics with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, is combining animal health, production, and farm financial data for the first time to help dairy farms become more profitable and sustainable.
Hadrich, who grew up on a dairy farm, said bringing together data sets that have traditionally been kept separate will give farmers the comprehensive information they need to make better management decisions.
“My research is looking at a more whole-systems approach to studying decisions on dairy farms,” she said. “One of the outcomes of this project is to develop a tool or methodology that’s going to help the farmers, in particular dairy producers, use their data in a more efficient manner without requiring them to take more time.”
The project is funded through the Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension Tech Transfer program (AGREETT), which aims to tackle the most important challenges facing agriculture. AGREETT was created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2015 and includes a multi-year, $5 million state investment through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in agricultural research, Extension, and teaching at the U of M. The program focuses on areas like crop and livestock productivity, soil fertility and water quality, and technologies for managing pest resistance and climate change.
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