Despite many inevitable challenges presented by the coronavirus lockdown, the new dairy unit that will play a key part in training students for a new undergraduate Dairy Engineering qualification is taking shape rapidly.
The course is being offered by Wiltshire College & University Centre and will be based at the Lackham campus just outside Chippenham. T H WHITE is partnering with the College in construction of a state-of-art extension to the dairy unit featuring two of the latest DeLaval VMS V300 robotic milking units, an advanced Bauer slurry control system plus a day/night LED lighting system. The complete project will benefit from industry-leading DeLaval software.
Lackham’s course, which will be supported going forward by T H WHITE with continuing input and resources, is designed to address the skills gap in the dairy sector. Focusing on the remarkable technological advances in dairying which have given us advanced robotic milking and precision herd management to a standard that simply didn’t exist only a few years ago, the course will give students a firm grounding in the latest developments, allied to a strong career advantage in this fast-changing area of farming.
T H WHITE is acting as project manager for the new build, working closely with the College management team at Lackham and the main contractor, Haines Construction (Southern) Ltd. Our ‘man on the ground’ Mike Howes charts the progress so far: “There were some delays at the start,” he says, “as we were not permitted to demolish a few old buildings on site until planning consent had been granted for the new building. Then we had to implement some careful management of the water table during the extremely wet weather in February.
“When the virus broke out and demand in the construction sector tailed off, we were able to take advantage of the availability of steel and galvanising services to get all the necessary materials on site.”
These photos, taken on 25 June, show the structural steel work in place and blockwork for the VMS milking stations and classrooms in progress. “We were about three weeks behind schedule after the lockdown,” Mike added, “but we’ve now recovered at least two of those. We are still aiming to have cows in by September, with the building ready for students by October.”
T H WHITE managing director Alex Scott has played a key role in bringing the project to fruition. “Considering the challenges that have already been thrown at us in 2020,
I am delighted that we have managed to keep the project on track,” he said. “The performance of the whole team in making it happen has been most impressive.”
Amanda Burnside, principal of Wiltshire College & University Centre, Lackham, said “The progress on this wonderful new facility has been remarkable. We are confident that the new course starting this autumn will offer students many first class career opportunities and we look forward to welcoming them.”
To learn more about the Lackham Dairy Engineering Course, or to apply for a place starting this September, go to www.wiltshire.ac.uk. Applications are now open and there is a helpful FAQ section on the website to guide you through the process.