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  • Research, Development & Extension

    Research, Development & Extension

    The following projects are currently being funded by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation

    Research, Development & Extension (RD&E) makes up 55% of Gardiner Dairy Foundation’s Investment Portfolio, informed by our current Strategic Direction 2018-2021. Our approach is to invest a meaningful amount into a small number of well targeted projects, generally as a co-investor.

    Consistent with the industry priority focus on the feedbase and the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Strategy, in 2018 the Foundation partnered with Dairy Australia and DJPR (Agriculture Victoria) to establish the ‘DairyFeedbase’ collaboration. This initiative will support the delivery of high impact innovations to the dairy industry by bringing together large-scale integrated research, using cutting-edge agricultural technologies, to improve pasture performance, animal nutrition and the cost-competitiveness of the feedbase. Gardiner Dairy Foundation will contribute $9m over six years, as part of the total initiative of over $50m.

    ImProving Herds

    Recipient Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

    Lead Jennie Pryce

    Partner organisations Dairy Australia, Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme, National Herd Improvement Association, Holstein Australia, French National Institute for Agricultural Research and the Scottish Rural College

    ImProving Herds is the Gardiner Dairy Foundation’s flagship investment project into animal performance. In line with the national RD&E framework, ‘Dairy Moving Forward’ – this project is focused on Animal Performance and aims to improve rates of genetic gain by demonstrating the value of genetics and herd improvement.

    Genetic improvement is a major driver of profit and productivity in the Australian dairy industry. Demonstrating that herd improvement, including genetic improvement and herd testing, improved profit was a key goal recognised by the Herd Improvement Strategy 2020.

    The project aims to demonstrate that making profitable herd decisions can be easy for farmers and advisors by testing the economic efficacy of tools and systems that reduce complex science into simple, data driven practice. Using dairy farm monitor methodology, the relationship between genetic merit – as measured by the ADHIS indices – and profit will be tested on 25 herds. The results will then be communicated back to farmers and advisors through extension activities.

    Best practise extension will be a key part of the project. It will use ‘innovation networks’ among farmers, consultants, milk processors, the financial sector, researchers and other service providers within the project. It is anticipated that the project will generate a sense of excitement and respect for genetic improvement which could add an extra $66 m to farmer profit over 20 years.

    For more information: ImProving Herds Fact sheet, Media Release – project launch, ImProving Herds – project update

    Taking Stock and Feeding Pastures for Profit

    Partner Organisation Dairy Australia

    The milk price drop in April 2016 challenged the dairy community at all levels.

    The industry needed to respond. As an independent and flexible supporter of the dairy industry, Gardiner Dairy Foundation were able to move quickly to be the first organisation to answer the call, by contributing $1.4m to the state-wide, collaborative industry response package that ultimately reached $11.4m.

    Gardiner Dairy Foundations funding is making important programs including Taking Stock and Feeding Pasture for Profit accessible to all Victorian dairy farmers, helping facilitate the roll-out of Dairy Australia’s Tactics for Tight Times, which is now well underway.

    Of our total $1.4m contribution, $900k will help support Taking Stock. This allows Victorian dairy farmers to have a one-on-one consultation to work through a financial budget, as well as a feed budget, free of charge. This is critical information for making a plan to get through the season.

    Gardiner Dairy Foundation is also contributing $280k to Feeding Pastures For Profit (FPFP) The FPFP course is not new. Indeed, 1400 farmers have taken part since it started in 2004. FPFP has been estimated to benefit farmers who participate by $43k per annum. Gardiner Dairy Foundation funding will support Victorian dairy farmers to participate, free of charge, in a one-day course and enable an update of the course material.

    After what has been described as a crisis for dairy, milk companies have announced their prices for 2016/2017. Many dairy farmers are reviewing income projections and making plans to get through a season with tough terms of trade. We encourage all Victorian dairy farmers to use the industry tools available to them, and enrol for Taking Stock and FPFP.

    For more information www.dairyfarmercentral.com.au

    Investment in Feedbase

    Partner organisations Dairy Australia

    Feedbase management is a core component of dairy farming, with feed costs comprising approximately 50% of the costs for farm businesses. It involves the challenges of managing pastures and forages across variable climatic conditions, volatile markets, cows at different stages of lactation and using various supplementary feeding options. Feedbase decisions are inherently complex but critically important. Despite the economic importance and the significant past investment in feedbase research, development and extension (RD&E), practical measures of performance have not improved on many farms over recent years.

    Gardiner Dairy Foundation and Dairy Australia are preparing a substantive investment to unlock the outcomes made possible by past RD&E and achieve practice change that demonstrably increases farm feedbase performance.

    This investment is designed in a phased process, commencing from the Feedbase think tank workshop in late 2015. The aim of the think tank was exploring approaches and key issues to incorporate into the design of the project’s next phase – a farmer engagement and survey project to be carried out in 2016/2017.

    The resulting report and study findings will be utilised to guide priorities for Dairy Moving Forward and future investments in projects to enhance the adoption of practices that improve feedbase performance.

    We look forward to the practice change investment beginning in 2018, after this staged project is completed throughout 2017.

    Social Sustainability in Dairying Communities Impacted by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

    Recipient Monash University

    Lead Professor Margaret Alston OAM

    Partner Organisations Australian Research Council

    Through research with people in dairy communities in the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan, this project will closely examine social sustainability and identify social supports to enhance positive adaptation and individual community resilience in the Murray-Darling Basin.

    The proposed Basin Plan to reallocate water will have significant social consequences impacting disproportionately on smaller, agriculturally dependent communities. This research will further develop a conceptual framework addressing limits to adaptation in communities affected by environmental crises, provide social policy advice and ultimately help to build more resilient communities.

    Having conducted interviews with high-level representatives of key stakeholders, the next phase of investigation will be to form focus groups for conducting interviews within the dairy communities in the Murray Darling Basin.