Dr Debbie McConnell: Report published

2016 Scholar, Dr Debbie McConnell’s report is now available on the Nuffield International website. Below is the executive summary of her report, titled:‘Digital Dairy: optimising the value of precision technology in the UK dairy industry.’

Report Title       

Digital Dairy: optimising the value of precision technology in the UK dairy industry


Dr Debbie McConnell


Thomas Henry Foundation

Countries visited

Australia, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, USA


Objectives of the study tour: 

  • Understand how dairy farmers and the supporting industry are currently using data provided by precision technology and evaluate the skills base required
  • Understand how farmers are assessing technology investments and determining the perceived return on investment.
  • Identify new and emerging technologies of value to the UK dairy sector.
  • Explore the potential to collate data from precision technologies to improve our understanding, develop new technologies and facilitate new mechanisms for conducting research.


  • There is significant scope to drive grassland utilisation on UK dairy farms but emerging technologies need to be validated
  • Technology developments offer enormous potential to improve both technical efficiency and the image of farming within the UK dairy sector and should be embraced
  • Technology adoption promotes better measurement but does not guarantee better management
  • Current use of technology is being hindered by a data management and data interpretation skills gap both on-farm and in the supporting dairy industry. This needs to be addressed to capture the true value of technology
  • Further integration of research and industry to identify key performance indicators for businesses using technologies, and tools for cost-benefit assessment are essential
  • There must be a move from a technology-centric to a system-centric view of precision agriculture


See Debbie’s report at: