Western Dairy

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PROJECT OVERVIEW

Western Dairy’s new Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Hub is hosted by SWCC and funded through the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and Dairy Australia, bringing together cutting edge dairy research with Natural Resource Management.

The new partnership reflects the strong link between dairy farm profitability and the management of natural resources and sustainable agriculture. Under the partnership, dairy research will be industry-led and driven by the needs of dairy farmers.

Western Dairy is one of eight Regional Development Programs under Dairy Australia and is the local organisation responsible for identifying priorities for research development and extension needs in the WA dairy industry.

Hosting the Research Hub provides SWCC with a number of benefits, including broader skill sets and capacity within the staff group, greater promotion of work in this sector, and increased networks within the dairy industry. It also benefits a significant and important group of farmers and land managers that may not routinely engage with NRM and the Landcare sector, and they will be exposed to more sustainable approaches as a result.

Several projects and NRM initiatives, such as the dairy composting project, have progressed directly as a result of this partnership and have benefited the sector.

The ongoing dairy composting project is investigating the economic and soil health benefits of applying compost to dairy pasture on three sites. One site uses commercial compost and the other two sites have made compost on the farm. Dairy farmers have the resources on farm to make the compost, which will allow them to recycle nutrients in a more environmentally friendly manner and with the soil benefits of applied organic matter.

Findings from the project will give farmers a clearer understanding of the value of making and applying compost. It will also help determine whether the practice is an economically viable option for handling farm waste resources.

The project is in its early phase and data is being collected for pasture growth rates and cow grazing preferences. Post application soil nutrient and soil health samples are still to be collected for analysis and it is expected that findings will be completed late in 2016.

“Partnerships and collaboration are key to effective natural resource management. The RD&E Hub, managed in partnership with Western Dairy and SWCC, will benefit from the combined strengths of our organisations.”

Damien Postma, SWCC Chief Executive Officer.

FUN FACT

A cow can produce 27 kilograms of manure every day, and up to one or two tonnes every year. This can leach excess nutrients into waterways, so the manure needs to be managed appropriately on the farm – as a resource rather than waste!

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