HomeDairyUCD Lyons Farm using low-cost system to gauge silo feedstock levels
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a fifth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the company in 2015.
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UCD Lyons Farm using low-cost system to gauge silo feedstock levels

UCD Lyons farm using Lvlogics

McAree Engineering, Ballinode, Co. Monaghan manufacture and supply the award-winning V-Mac range of animal feed silos to farmers in Ireland and the UK.

However, feed consumption can often be faster than expected, and meal bins can run out of stock.

This puts severe pressure on feed compounders as they may have to schedule deliveries at short notice and often at weekends, thereby incurring extra costs and may find staff unavailable.

Peter Richardson from McAree Engineering said:

“It can be difficult to see what is in a feed silo, and manual checking takes time which is in short supply on busy farms.”

Remote monitoring was traditionally very expensive. For example, load cells per silo can cost €4,000-8,000 -depending on size and weight.

Previous technology was not connected to the internet, so a customer could not receive text alerts on their smartphone.

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“We have often been asked for a cost-effective solution for monitoring V-Mac Silo content. Unfortunately, up until now, we haven’t been able to recommend a solution.”

Lvlogics

At the start of 2021, McAree Engineering met Barry Finnegan from the Irish firm, Lvlogics, Oldcastle, Co. Meath, who has an innovative, cost-effective solution.

They have developed a feed silo monitoring system which they are trailing on some Irish farms. These include Kiernan piggeries in Longford, UCD Lyons Farm and elsewhere, who are all using V-Mac feed silos.

Richardson said: “We see this system as a solution to make silos smart through its ability to provide real-time stock levels, measure and control silo temperature and humidity and all the benefit this brings with increased control, improved feed quality, farm safety etc.”

UCD Lyons Farm

UCD Lyons Farm is home to 200 pedigree Holstein cows split into two main herds.

The herd-1 is a split calving herd of 140 cows, comprising 80 spring-calving cows and 60 autumn-calving cows.

The herd-2 has 60 spring-calving cows that aims to investigate the feasibility of a high input/output, spring-calving milk production system for farmers on a fixed land bank.

The farm has six V-Mac feed silos manufactured by McAree Engineering on site. They use feed silos to store beef and dairy rations and numerous feed diets currently being trialled at UCD Lyons.

Since February 2021, UCD has been using the Lvlogics system to monitor feed silo stock levels and to check the humidity and temperature of the various feed diets stored in the six meal bins.

How does the Lvlogics system work? 

Backed by Lely, the Lvlogics system provides accuracy on silo contents to within 2/3%.

Dr Eddie Jordan, the farm manager and the team at Lyons can access all this data easily on their smartphone or on the office computer.

When feedstocks fall to a predetermined level, they receive an alert and can order further supplies in good time.

The plan is to allow feed millers access to this data so they can manufacture the speciality diets and arrange delivery in a more cost-effective manner.

The laser sensors the Lvlogics system uses have a patented self-cleaning mechanism to deal with the dust in a silo, so the data supplied is always accurate.

Jordan said: “Before installing this system, monitoring feedstocks was very time consuming, and we did not always get it right.”

“It can be difficult to see what is in a silo, and manual checking takes time.”

“Due to changing weather conditions, the humidity and temperature in the feed silos could change, leading to condensation etc.”

“So, we could have unforeseen problems with feed bridging in the silos or going mouldy.”

The feed silo monitoring system can be powered by batteries, mains electricity or even solar panels.

Benefits of Lvlogics system

This technology is unique, patented, and Irish. According to the company, the multiple, the award-winning Lvlogics system has worldwide potential due to its ability to:

  • Improve feed quality;
  • Farm safety;
  • Logistics issues,

Finnegan added: “It is estimated that logistics cost of over €2 billion is wasted globally pa, due to inefficient deliveries of compound feeds.”

“Access to levels data within feed silos can dramatically improve logistic planning and significantly reduce this waste.”

Also, the improved safety on farms, as the need to climb silos to determine levels is eliminated, is a significant benefit of the system.

“According to New York Times between 2007 and 2014, 80 people lost their lives in North America from accidents in feed silos or falling from silos which can be up to 40m in height.”

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