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Partner show | Kees de Koning: Dairy Campus is not just a farm

2021-10-20 15:17:37 Comments:0 Views:725 category:SDDDC News

“The crazier and the more innovative 

the idea, the better for me.”

--Kees de koning

Kees de Koning, born and raised on a small farm with cows, pigs, poultry and some horticulture in the south of the Netherlands. After finishing the agricultural university of applied sciences, he started his career in agricultural extension in the ministry of agriculture, later followed by the department of policy making and moved around 1995 to one of the national research institutes and worked mainly in the field of automatic milking. Currently he holds a position as managing director of Dairy Campus since 2011, the (inter)national research, innovation, and education centre for the Dutch dairy chain, located in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.

He has over 35 five years of experience in agricultural engineering, milking technology, robotic milking, milk quality, sustainable farm management, smart farming, sensor technology, quality assurance and food technology. He is also chairman of the Steering Committee of the Sino Dutch Dairy Development Centre (SDDDC) in Beijing, China, member of the Standing Committee on Farm Management from the International Dairy Federation (IDF), and manager of the Dutch Test Centre of the International Committee of Animal Recording (ICAR).

Kees & China's dairy industry 

Kees said that it initially was a coincidence for him to get involved in the Chinese dairy sector. One of his former colleagues moved to another position so he took over the quest and came to China to perform the research that was related to dairy farming and food safety initiated by the agricultural counselor of the Dutch embassy.  China has really impressed him and he has decided to continue following the Chinese dairy market. 15 years have passed since then.

He said that China's dairy industry has changed a lot. His first trip to China was in 2005, food safety was the main topic at that moment. Nowadays food safety is not a big challenge anymore, we are now talking sustainability, circularity, new technologies and new dairy products. So for the past 15 years, China's dairy industry has shifted from a basic dairy mode to a quite professional level.

Dairy Campus

Dairy Campus is part of the Dutch national Agrifood cluster and connected also with other Dutch clusters like Food Valley Wageningen, Water Campus Leeuwarden and the Sino Dutch Dairy Development Center in Beijing - China. Although Dairy Campus focuses on the entire dairy chain from grass to glass, most activities deal with the milk production side of the dairy chain. At Dairy Campus innovative projects and activities are carried out in order to generate new information and knowledge to drive innovation in the dairy chain. In this way science and practice go hand in hand. Dairy Campus has five main programs: Research, Innovation, Education, Dissemination and Training.

Inspiring meeting place

Dairy Campus is the place where all these parties come together. Boasting 500 dairy cattle, over 300 hectares of land, and training and conference facilities, Dairy Campus is an inspiring meeting place for anyone involved in the dairy sector.

Healthy and safe milk

Students and professionals can come here for training courses, internships and graduation projects. It is a place where researchers can conduct pioneering research and the business sector is encouraged to commit to and invest in innovative projects. And all to ensure that we can continue producing healthy and safe milk in the future, with respect for mankind, animals and the environment.

Dairy Campus & Innovation

“The crazier and the more innovative the idea, the better for me.” Kees said this during the interview. He emphasized several times that the dairy campus is not just a dairy farm but an innovation center working on the future challenges of dairy. On the one hand, Dairy Campus is more or less continuously renewing and adapting its facilities in order to perform the new trials or research; a standard dairy farm would not do so. On the other hand,the main product the cows at the Dairy Campus centre are producing is data: data from milk, soil, grass and land. Our cows are producing data and milk of course. So Dairy Campus collects huge amounts of data and is analyzing much more than a dairy ever will do. That makes Dairy Campus very different compared with a common dairy farm.

One of the most interesting projects he mentioned was the Cow Toilet: something that sounds crazy but is quite creative and sustainable.

CowToilet is an automatic urinal that cows use voluntarily as they come to feeding stations with urine collected before it hits the floor. By ensuring urine stays separated from the manure there is considerably less ammonia emission. This is good for both the environment and animal welfare with a healthier atmosphere in cattle sheds. The CowToilet also offers economic advantages by saving on manure storage costs and separated urine can become a natural precision fertilizer or eventually a source of clean power through Hydrogen.
Another is virtual fencing: grazing without visible borders. The conception is that cows wear a collar with a sensor to register their field position and to signal the cow. The cow receives signals as soon as she comes too close to or threatens to overstep the GPS coordinates defined virtual fence. This method offers future farmers the possibility to graze cows according to their needs. It allows the use of new grazing routines, e.g. give top-producing cows in a group priority access to a fresh (highest quality) grass strip.

Kees said that Dairy Campus is an open ecosystem, or in other words, a living lab working with many partners both from the industry as from on the sustainable development of the Dutch dairy sector. To do so cooperation is key – that is our DNA: Inspire to create.

Dairy Campus & Covid-19

Kees said that the dairy campus is not really a “Campus” at this moment now due to the covid-19 because there are not many students allowed due to the current lockdown. The effects are not only this but also on the number of visitors. Normally Dairy Campus has 10,000-20,000 visitors annually but all visits have been canceled and postponed. Like many other businesses also Dairy Campus is affected by the Covid19, but luckily not too heavily, except for the visitors.

Same to all other international platforms like SDDDC, Dairy Campus also started to organize webinars and meetings online, sharing the news on social media since the pandemic outbreak, Kees said it’s a good way to get connected to your clients and your network, it’s not the way how Dairy Campus wants to work. The centre is based on innovation, research and education and a successful operation depend on meeting people also face to face, but he is pretty sure this will be possible again in the near future.

To know more:

Dairy Campus & China’s dairy industry

For such a good Think Tank, can we set it up in China? Of course, yes. Kees said the plan of a similar approach in China has already been discussed with prof Li Shengli a while ago. It will be built in Pinggu district and named Jingwa Agriculture Technology Innovation Centre. It consists at the moment of three centers and one of them will be the dairy center, based on the ideas of Dairy Campus. As a non-commercial center with a combination of trails and dairy production, it could fit excellently in China. He said he is really willing to support and even might need to stay in Beijing for few months to finalize it.

As pointed out by Li Shengli, director of the Sino Dutch Dairy Development Center, the sustainable development of China’s dairy industry is faced with challenges such as insufficient production capacity and low efficiency. It is necessary to learn from advanced experience from other countries like the Netherlands, improve the management level of the entire industry chain, increase production and efficiency, and promote the development of pastures. It is hoped that the establishment of Jingwa Center will promote the development of China's dairy industry by learning from the innovative business model and advanced technology experience of the Dutch dairy industry.




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