A new 50-bay rotary dairy at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture’s Dairy Research Facility at Elliott was officially unveiled on July 25.
The upgrades are the result of a $7.8 million joint investment from the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania to support future success of TIA’s research farms in the north-west, including the Forthside Vegetable Research Facility.
“This investment will underpin a ‘region of excellence’ for applied agriculture research and demonstration to industry,” TIA director Professor Michael Rose said.
“Tasmania has an opportunity to lead the nation in contemporary research and innovation to support the dairy industry, due to the transformation of the Dairy Research Facility at Elliott.”
The scale of the upgrades taking place at TDRF is significant and, alongside the 50-bay rotary dairy, includes a new 12.5 Ml effluent dam, increased irrigation water storage capacity in one of the dams from 24 to 115 Ml, 11 km of underground irrigation pipeline, and the conversion of 32 ha of previously unirrigated land for farmlet trials.
The modernised milking parlour will provide better facilities for supplement feeding research and automated collection of research-quality cow feeding, production, health and welfare data.
“It has been especially designed with an underpass to enable researchers access to the centre of the rotary to conduct herd testing without interfering with the operations,” TIA Livestock Production Centre leader Dr James Hills said.
“The new parlour will also have milk meters for every stall, walk-over scales, a body condition scoring camera and an individualised feeding system.”
Work was fast-tracked to ensure the farm is operational for the start of the milking season in August to enable a five-year research program that has been co-funded by Dairy Australia.
Farmlets or ‘mini farms’ are being established with one-hectare paddocks situated over 32 ha. This will enable the team to test research hypotheses under real farm conditions and ensure the results provide practical solutions for farmers.
The $6.5 million Dairy HIGH 2 (high integrity grass-fed herds) project will focus on pasture-based dairy systems and seeks to address industry challenges and opportunities to achieve highly productive and profitable dairy operations that are sustainable into the future.
It is a five-year partnership of strategic importance to Australia’s dairy industry.
“The research at Elliott has become more relevant over the past 12 months, with high input costs and the need to better understand major nutrients like nitrogen,” Dairy Australia managing director Dr David Nation said.
“We’re pleased to be part of this research program to help farmers in Tasmania and other pasture-based regions in Australia.
“It is through multi-year commitments to research that we can build on our successes as a dairy industry.”
The research conducted at TDRF will lead to tangible productivity and sustainability improvements for Tasmanian dairy farmers, supporting the Tasmanian Government’s target to grow the annual farm gate value of agriculture to $10 billion per year by 2050.
“Elliott and Forthside are our two key research farms, and the sites host significant and active research, development and engagement programs in partnership between TIA, national research and development corporations and the private sector,” Prof Rose said.
“The projects realised through this investment will allow TIA to work toward transforming the knowledge of agriculture, food production and post-farm gate practices of Tasmania’s farmers, contributing to a sustainable economic benefit for Tasmania.”