What was the challenge/ problem that was addressed? 

Companies make strategic choices for the longer term, but also make day-to-day operational choices depending on the challenges and constraints they face daily (shortage of roughage, labor, manure, etc.). The choices of a farm and the impact of those choices are very decisive for its ultimate profitability (and therefore future strategic choices). Business accounting provides insight into technical and business parameters, but it is always a result after the end of a financial year. By calculating several key parameters in real-time, companies can react and adjust their choices faster. The overall goal is to develop and implement several smaller calculation tools based on a group of operations containing a set of key parameters that allow dairy farmers to make operational short-term decisions to increase the profitability and economic sustainability of the company. These calculation tools should be web-based and focus on ease of use and clear output. 

How did you solve the problem? 

The Operational Group was formed from the practical experience that dairy farmers have with operational issues. First, a number of dairy farmers were sought who were willing to invest time in developing this process. In addition, dairy industry experts within Boerenbond and ILVO, which are close enough to the practice, were approached. By listening to the dairy farmers and in the meantime discussing with the expert group about the feasibility and the calculation method, we can now make positive progress in developing several calculation tools. A clear division of tasks is also agreed upon each time. 

What are the success factors in solving the problem? 

The Operational Group includes seven active dairy farmers who help determine the direction of the tools. They have helped determine which parameters are important to the industry. In addition, they are the perfect touchstone to overcome the practical side of the tools. What data is easy for a dairy farmer to find and to fill in the tool and what are the interesting outputs of the tool. 

Unexpected fails if any 

Too early to judge. 

Lessons learned. 

Too early to judge. 

What role does the advisor or advisory service play within the practical case? 

As the coordinator of this group with insufficient technical knowledge to develop these tools, it is important to get the right people involved. There is good cooperation between project partners, with well divided tasks. The progress is steady and it is mainly advisor’s role to monitor that progress and move on to the next step. It’s going well at the moment. 

Can your approach be transferred and/or adapted for other innovation challenges and regions? 


Estimated transferability on a scale from 1 to 5  

(where 1 is easy and 5 very difficult) 


For sharing the experience on the good practice, please contact Patrick Meulemeester (patrick.meulemeester@boerenbond.be)