Problem-solving and perseverance are the key to success for 2023 Ag-Tech Innovator

Back Problem-solving and perseverance are the key to success for 2023 Ag-Tech Innovator

Raising UK market awareness of ADF Milking’s innovative teat-by-teat venting liner was a key focus and major plus from winning Agri-Tech Innovator of the Year, says company founder James Duke. “It is always good to be recognised for the work that has gone into the InVent product,” says Mr Duke.

“All the products we design and manufacture start by recognising a problem that needs to be resolved. As the liner is adaptable to different teat sizes, this was no different. The important thing here was to understand what caused the problem and work out a solution to suit that; realising that high mouthpiece chamber vacuum levels were caused by inconsistency in the size of cow teats resulting in external and internal teat swelling.”

The internal swelling, known as congestion, restricts the capacity of the teat canal, slowing down milk flow and preventing full milk-out. Mr Duke adds: “We always start a new project with some rough ideas; everyone has their failures, but perseverance is important to make a change.”

ADF Milking created a solution with InVent, which can detect when the vacuum level rises above a threshold. When the threshold is crossed, a valve in the liner mouthpiece chamber opens, injecting clean, food-grade air into the mouthpiece and reducing vacuum. Each liner is then the perfect fit on every teat during milking. That ability to recognise an industry need and provide a solution to the problem was something that impressed the judges on the day.

With intelligent venting technology aimed at improving dairy cow teat health and speeding up milking times, ADF Milking now operates across 34 countries with owned subsidiaries in New Zealand, Australia, North America and Germany. The BFA award has been pivotal in building brand awareness in the UK. Mr Duke says: “We design and manufacture all our InVent systems in the UK – something we are particularly proud of at ADF. Although it is difficult to attribute sales to an award win, we certainly closed a lot more orders following the award. Sales have continued to grow, leaving us 30 per cent up on the previous year; something that is perhaps not reflected in other areas of the industry and a great achievement for the team.”

The business is continuing a steady trajectory of growth, and now employs 42 staff. Winning the award was a real boost to staff morale, says Mr Duke. Not one to stand still, he adds: “We are currently working on some more exciting new projects that we hope will be industry game-changers.”

As a keen promoter and supporter of UK innovation, Mr Duke urges anyone with an idea to come forward and enter the BFA Awards. “For me, these things are always worth applying for because there is nothing to lose,” he says.