In the midst of the rise of automatic milking systems, Peder Damgaard is ready for change. At the Graasten Agricultural School, south of Denmark, Peder is principal at the time. He had a vision for his students: “Future farmers, students at my school back then, should not spend their time on milking cows but on managing a farm.” In the autumn of 1998, Peter Damgaard started a project at the school.
Peder’s school was the first agricultural school in the area for young people, where the opportunity was given to follow education in robotic milking. These young people were encouraged to take part of an interesting project. In this project, the automatic milking system was given a central role. Two Astronauts A2 were installed. In envisioning a more enjoyable life for farmer and cow, free cow traffic was important. At that time, free and forced cow traffic was a discussion point in Denmark. Peder Damgaard had a clear opinion about this: “My criteria was that free cow traffic should be a must and the only way.” A criterion that is now well-accepted in dairy farming of today.
Being one of the early pioneers in Denmark, Peder Damgaard was a real help for Lely. On the second farm in Denmark where a Lely Astronaut was installed, the Ecco farm, Peder was present as a consultant. He witnessed and enjoyed the excitement of this experimenting phase.
Looking back, moving forward
Years later, we can say the actual farm at Graasten farm school was a success and sat an example for other schools. Since then, automatic milking have become an important part of milk production. Almost 1800 robots from Lely alone are now installed at farms across Denmark. On some of these farms, certainly some former students of the Grasten Agricultural School must have followed their dreams of future farming. Peder is no longer principal of the farm school but is still passionate about the future of agriculture. “And development of Lely solutions will for sure be part of that future,” concludes Peder.