Connected — and Smelling Sweet

February 26, 2013 03:27 AM

Jon Patterson

Jon Patterson


Auburn, N.Y.

Jon Patterson’s dairy milks 1,100 cows on a farm that’s been in the family since 1832.




The topic of technology is ironic because I just purchased my first smartphone before going to Dairy Today’s Elite Producer Business Conference last November.

I use it to play solitaire mostly -- just kidding. I really use it to stay connected to people on the farm via text, and to send and receive emails anywhere. That saves me from running back to the office all the time to check email and from taking my barn-smelling laptop with me on trips.

With the weather apps on the phone, I can get instant radar anytime. This can help a lot when deciding to spread manure or stop if a front is coming that may lead to run-off, or looking to see if we are going to get any large amounts of snow to be prepared for. The weather is at your fingertips anytime, anywhere. I hope that we will be able to access Dairy Comp 305 from the phone soon.

We have been using Global Positioning and Auto Steer on two tractors for strip tilling and planting for a few years. We also use this for fertilizer application and drag-hose manure application.
We also use a yield monitor on our harvest equipment and will have an on-the-fly moisture tester on the forage harvester this spring. We hope this will help get more consistent dry-matter feed and make crop reporting more accurate for crop insurance.

We have many cameras and digital video recorders on the dairy to keep an eye on things when we are not there. We have them in the parlor, milk house, office and calving pen. We use these to check performance and also as a teaching aid for a job well done or if someone needs to be shown how they are doing something wrong. We can see if a calf has been given colostrum in the time that is needed or if a calf was born in the manure alley instead of the pack.

We use genomic-tested bulls from our semen supplier and sexed semen to help grow the herd with the genetics we want. All animal records are kept on Dairy Comp 305. We have software for the computer for everything from feeding cows to milking. We use our feeding program to help track dry matter intake, inventories and cost, and it does away with feeding sheets. Our parlor management software helps monitor units on time and lets me see if units are not working properly.

The anaerobic digester is one piece of technology we use to help with neighbor relations and nutrient management. With the removal of most of the odor from the manure, we can apply the manure in the summer onto hay without neighbor complaints.

This also doubled the yield on the acres we applied last year in the drought. Now that we have removed the solids from the manure, we have been able to pump it up to 4.5 miles from home. That makes moving manure much better, with no trucks on the road and steady pumping with limited down-time.

Patterson’s recent prices

$21.11 (3.75 bf, 3.21 prt)

Cull cows

Springing heifers

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)


Corn meal


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