The course, scheduled to begin in September 2020, will be based at the College’s Lackham Campus near Chippenham, where the 1,700-acre site is home to three working farms.
The existing 140-cow dairy unit will be augmented with a new robotic milking parlor featuring two of the latest DeLaval VMS V300 robotic milking units, an advanced Bauer slurry control system plus a day/night LED lighting system.
Students on the course will be able to study engineering and automation in a real-world environment against a background of business management and animal husbandry. The full-time two-year course will lead to a Level 4 BTEC higher qualification (HND), or part time (HNC).
Amanda Burnside, principal at the college, said, “We are very proud to have designed and created a dedicated dairy qualification for the sector, aimed at students with a passion for agricultural technology, engineering, science and automation.
“The new facilities we are building at Lackham, backed by £9m ($11.7m) funding from the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, will be the envy of other farm automation learning providers and will, no doubt, create an amazing training environment for our students.”
As well as installing the new robotic parlor, T H WHITE will deliver lecture sessions during the year in which CEO Alex Scott and other senior members of the T H WHITE team will discuss business development and innovation in agriculture, with head of dairy Nigel Ellis covering the latest in robotic milking, feeding, fertility and other strategies for increased milk yield.
Scott said, “We believe this initiative is exactly what is required to address the skills gap in the dairy sector, and we are delighted to be working in partnership with the college, as well as DeLaval to make it happen. The course will lay a pathway to an attractive career combining technology and farming.
“To expand the range of studies T H WHITE will provide several work experience placements and offer student access to the company’s Frome-based business, from where our expert dairy team operates.”
Ciaran Murphy of DeLaval sees the new course as an opportunity to attract more technically-minded young people to dairying.
“By participating in the partnership at Lackham, DeLaval can provide students with the hands-on experience and technical knowledge that will give them a strong career advantage in this fast-changing area of farming,” Murphy said.