This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

More robotic dairies

(If the title makes you think of robot cows being milked, you probably did not grow up in Rensselaer.)

After Monday night's City Council meeting, it was time to go to the Court House for more meetings. Up first was the Jasper County BZA. It announced that the continuation of the  hearing for Prairie Creek Ag Lands, which had wanted to remove a sand ridge in the northern part of the County, was delayed and would not be heard until the January meeting.

Next on the agenda were special exceptions for two robotic dairies. Both were from T & M Limited Partnerships, one for Hidden View Dairy in  Barkley Township and the other for Herrema Dairy in Union Township. In March of 2015 the BZA approved a robotic dairy for Bos Dairy farms that was a test of European technology. The test has been successful and now the owners of the dairies want to put it in other dairies.

Both dairies currently have about 4000 cows. The Hidden View Dairy wants to add 780 cows and the Herrema Dairy 960. A reason for the difference is that the Hidden View Dairy plans to move some cows from its existing operation. Both buildings will be large, one 345 feet by 350 feet and the other 346 by 412 feet. In a robotic dairy the cows decide when they want to be milked. They approach the milking machine which reads their ID, washes their udders, attached the cups, and milks them with no human intervention. A robotic dairy uses two people to do the work that seven do in a regular dairy. There were also details of retention ponds, manure lagoons, and digesters for each dairy. Both special exceptions were approved.

The Planning Commission met next. It had a request to rezone from A1 to A2 for a parcel in the Wheatfield Township. Two brothers want to subdivide and each build a house. There was a concerned citizen who voiced opposition largely because he suspected that they wanted to do more than build two houses, but the rezone was granted.

Closer to home, at SJC the bookstore has closed because it is moving. Ever since I arrived on campus in 1974 the bookstore was located on the west end of Halleck Hall on the Ballroom floor. A few months ago the College turned over the business to Sodexo, the company that runs the food service. The new location will be on the south side of the Ballroom floor, in an area that was once a student lounge and the Chaplain's office. There is also a name change coming, The Shoppes. I asked one of my former colleagues if students still bought textbooks at the bookstore and he said that it was all done on the Internet now.
The weather has turned cooler but is still pleasant.

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