On the Humphris farm, different forage types will be monitored throughout the year to understand how each of these contributes to the overall system. For details see here.

As part of the Accelerating Change project, in 2016-17 we will continue to conduct monitoring and measurement on our two Partner Farms.

 

In the last twelve months we have looked at the contribution of different forage types to home grown feed production and the impact of different irrigation intervals on pasture and lucerne during the irrigation season. For information on the outcomes to date, see here (spring-Summer) and here (Autumn-Winter).

Given the changes that have occurred over the last 12 months, particularly in terms of seasonal conditions and water price, we have revised the monitoring and measurement strategy to capture the changes happening on farm. Our Partner Farmers, with their agronomists, have formulated plans to optimise on the availability of water, feed and other farm inputs, operating conditions and business resources.

On the Humphris Farm, we will continue to look at the contribution of different forage types to the home grown feed production. Tim plans to sow sorghum this year to complement his perennial ryegrasses, paspalum and fescue. As part of the broader project, we will capture the agronomic management decisions made by farmers and their agronomists throughout the season.

At the Humphris farm, sorghum will be sown into bays that are also a part of Agriculture Victoria’s bay design trial. All bays have been lasered on a 1/800 grade: two bays will remain as they are; two bays have additional twin spoon drains down the middle; and two have additional spinner cuts. With a series of soil moisture probes positioned along each bay, researchers will monitor the effect of bay design on the flow of irrigation water on and off, and subsequent impact on the crop. We will support AgVic to get findings out to you as they become available.

Methodology

2016-17

Sections of the Humphris farm that will be part of the 2016-17 project monitoring and measurement 

On the Stewart-Matthews Farm, we will continue to monitor the effect of different irrigation intervals on lucerne production – (I) once per grazing and (II) three times in 2 grazings – to understand the impact of these strategies on lucerne productivity and quality.

We will also assess the performance of three different aged stands of lucerne. Lucerne is the primary source of grazed summer forage on the Stewart-Matthews farm. Several hectares of lucerne have been sown each year for the last four years and the management strategy is to maintain stands for five years. By investigating yield, density and quality of the different lucerne stands, we aim to gain an appreciation of effectiveness of this strategy. 

We will continue to use the Automated Pasture Reader (APR) to collect data on pasture and lucerne, with the collection of quadrat cuts from the field to form calibration equations to be maintained.  Adding this data to last year’s data will give us increased confidence in the use of this technology, and assist in the development of locally specific calibration.

Additionally, the opportunity has arisen to measure yield and quality of forage sorghum which the Stewarts and Matthews plan to sow. Some of these bays will be instrumented for soil water status.

We will continue to use soil moisture monitoring technology to improve irrigation scheduling and monitor the responses of different forage types. On the Humphris farm, capacitance probes are installed in perennial pasture bays. On the Stewart-Matthews farm, capacitance probes are installed under pasture, lucerne and sorghum.

This year we will also be expanding our look at the use of different types of soil moisture monitoring technology to assist irrigation scheduling for pasture. Farmers regularly tell us that probes are useful under deeper rooted species such as maize and lucerne, but more difficult to interpret in pasture. As such, we have decided to install several types of soil water monitoring technology on one of the project’s PIT (Performance Innovation Team) farms. These technologies will be used in conjunction with ETo data and NDVI ('sate;lite') imaging provided through DEDJTR's Spatial Information Sciences team, to inform decisions around irrigation scheduling on perennial pasture bays.
 

As we did for the last season, we will use this data to contribute to an economic analysis of the respective dairy systems and on-farm management decisions. This will include an assessment of the value of different forage types within the overall system and the impact of different irrigation practices. 

Monitoring and Measurement data, agronomic reports and any additional feedbase updates will be uploaded to the website as they become available.  

Sections of the Stewart-Matthews farm that will be part of the 2016-17 project monitoring and measurement