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Precision livestock farming (PLF) technologies have been widely promoted as important tools to improve the sustainability of dairy systems due to perceived economic, social, and environmental benefits. However, there is still limited information about the level of adoption of PLF technologies (percentage of farms with a PLF technology) and the factors (farm and farmer characteristics) associated with PLF technology adoption in pasture-based dairy systems. The current research aimed to address this knowledge gap by using a representative survey of Irish pasture-based dairy farms from 2018. First, we established the levels of adoption of 9 PLF technologies (individual cow activity sensors, rising plate meters, automatic washers, automatic cluster removers, automatic calf feeders, automatic parlor feeders, automatic drafting gates, milk meters, and a grassland management decision-support tool) and grouped them into 4 PLF technology clusters according to the level of association with each other and the area of dairy farm management in which they are used. The PLF technology clusters were reproductive management technologies, grass management technologies, milking management technologies, and calf management technologies. Additionally, we classified farms into 3 categories of intensity of technology adoption based on the number of PLF technologies they have adopted (nonadoption, low intensity of adoption, and high intensity of adoption). Second, we determined the factors associated with the intensity of technology adoption and with the adoption of the PLF technology clusters. A multinomial logistic regression model and 4 logistic regressions were used to determine the factors associated with intensity of adoption (low and high intensity of adoption compared with nonadoption) and with the adoption of the 4 PLF technology clusters, respectively. Adoption levels varied depending on PLF technology, with the most adopted PLF technologies being those related to the milking process (e.g., automatic parlor feeders and milk meters). The results of the multinomial logistic regression suggest that herd size, proportion of hired labor, agricultural education, and discussion group membership were positively associated with a high intensity of adoption, whereas age of farmer and number of household members were negatively associated with high intensity of adoption. However, when analyzing PLF technology clusters, the magnitude and direction of the influence of the factors in technology adoption varied depending on the PLF technology cluster being investigated. By identifying the PLF technologies in which pasture-based dairy farmers are investing more and by detecting potential drivers and barriers for the adoption of PLF technologies, the current study could allow PLF technology companies, practitioners, and researchers to develop and target strategies that improve future adoption of PLF technologies in pasture-based dairy settings.
P. Palma-Molina, Hennessy, T., A.H. O'Connor, S. Onakuse, O’Leary, N.W., Moran, B. and Shalloo, L. (2023). Factors associated with intensity of technology adoption and with the adoption of 4 clusters of precision livestock farming technologies in Irish pasture-based dairy systems.J. Dairy Sci. [online] 106(4), pp.2498–2509. doi:https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2021-21503.