Transforming the bush: robots, drones and cows that milk themselves | Paul Daley

Rural Australia is being progressively hollowed out of its people. Will it be reduced to a vast mechanised place of scant human habitation?

These cows are in no hurry. Each just meanders to the dairy, all rolling hindquarters, swishing tails and loping heads, the blue-black and tan Rorschach ink-blot patching of their hides vivid against the washed-out Australian summer light. They stop as they please along the way. Chew cud. Moo. Drop pats. Moo again. They nudge the soft earth or a companion before snorting and continuing on up through the paddocks to the shed.

It’s milking time – just as it’s always milking time in this dairy for about 360 Friesians at Camden, where the outer orbit of Sydney gives way to the gentle rise that becomes the southern highlands. These cows are not held to the human clock and milked according to the dairy farmer’s traditionally antisocial (for both people and cows) timetable, at the crack of dawn and again at dusk. And they don’t have to line up for hours, either, cramped in a race, their udders bursting, in order for a dairy worker to quickly wash their teats, apply the suction cups, extract their milk, disinfect and send them on their way.

Related: Dairy price drop: Nationals and Labor grapple with farmer crisis

Robots that can plant, fertilise, spray, weed, monitor, harvest, pack and transport crops will inhabit the countryside

Non-Indigenous Australia’s emotional nexus with the land is stretched with the emergence of each new urban generation

Related: Scorched earth: at the epicentre of the Queensland drought, a family sells the last of their cattle

Ever since the original settlement … the size of farm holdings has continuously expanded

Related: Life after the exodus: Nhulunbuy picks up the pieces of its worst year

Related: After the robot revolution, what will be left for our children to do?

Every single country has some sort of automation program going on in agriculture

Related: Could carbon farming be the answer for a 'clapped-out' Australia?

Jobs lost in the bush to robots may not, ultimately, reappear in another guise in the towns, regional centres and cities

The reality is it’s just a gorgeous way to farm. And I would love to get that message out

We are talking about using swarms of lightweight, low-cost machines to do a multitude of tasks

Related: Welcome to the robot-based workforce: will your job become automated too?

Will the people who once worked in the dairies stay in the bush and learn how to write code?

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via Transforming the bush: robots, drones and cows that milk themselves | Paul Daley

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