Accelerating Change held two Open Days in May, one on each of the project partner farms – the Humphris’ in Tongala and the Stewart-Matthews’ in Yarrawalla – where data around the quality and yield of different forage types, and the impact of different irrigation strategies, had been collected over the spring and summer. Each of the partner farms worked closely with their respective consultants to conduct a financial analysis of their business with the benefit of comprehensive project data indicating how they performed across the season.
The Open Days provided an opportunity for all dairy farmers and industry professionals in the region to review the data as well as to hear from the partner farmers about what they learnt from the results and the decisions they have made going in to next season. Guest speakers at the Open Days included Seasonal Risk and Grains agronomist, Dale Grey of The Very Fast Break, Soil agronomist, Dale Boyd, and Farm Monitoring Solutions (FMS) technician, Adrian O...
We've been sharing some snapshots from Accelerating Change on social media. follow @Murray_Dairy and the tag #acceleratingchange to hear what project staff Amy Fay and Harriet Bawden and our farmers are discussing.
Accelerating Change Performance Innovation Teams met in November and December. A significant amount of the discussion focused on the group's summer feeding strategies, characterised by limited water availability and high prices.
Kelvin Matthews and Don Stewart are already seeing the results from improved data collection on farm. The nutritive sampling Accelerating Change has been conducting has revealed that their lucerne pasture was of excellent quality, much higher than the PIT group expected (ME 10.7, CP 29.4%, NDF 36.6% and ME 11.5, CP 33.2% & NDF 34.2%). Working with their nutritionist Andre Nel from Ridley's, they worked out their cows were receiving an extra 30 ME per day than required, and body condition score was increasing over time. Armed with this information they have reduced their grain intake by 1kg in the dairy, saving approximately 27c per cow per day. Over 500 cows this is a significant saving. Body condition is now being maintained. The herd will be monitored over ti...
The Stewart PIT spoke at length about the data that could be collected on the farm to inform some key management strategies for the group. In the first couple of meetings the watering strategy utilised on the farm, in particular the longer irrigation intervals that Kelvin and Don use, were of particular interest to the other farms in the group. Some felt that the longer intervals might be causing a yield penalty where others were keen to know if they could implement a longer irrigation interval to save on water use without compromising on pasture accumulation. The PIT team discussed the monitoring and measurement methodology and it was agreed that Accelerating Change would measure the impact of different watering strategies on the Stewart’s lucerne and perennial pastures.
The following methodology was agreed to. Each square represents a different irrigation bay.
On the Stewart farm, we are taking regular weekly readings to examine pasture growth at different irrigation intervals and on...
A lot has been happening in the Accelerating Change project and the broader industry over the last month. The hot dry start to spring meant irrigation was well under way when the Stewart Performance Innovation Team (PIT) met on 17 September. With the upturn in water prices, many farmers involved with Accelerating Change are reviewing their summer feeding strategies. Initial data collection will help assist with the calculations to weigh up whether certain pastures will be watered through or dried off. The Stewart PIT met in September to review farm performance, receive a technical presentation on moisture probes from Dale Boyd of DEDJTR and discuss and the monitoring and measurement strategy and pasture reading technology on the Stewart’s farm.
Accelerating Change is using the Automated Pasture Reader (APR) to collect data about the average pasture height, uniformity and estimated mass (kgDM/ha) across selected paddocks. In a number of these paddocks on both farms, we have taken sampl...
Picture: Mike Morris, DEDJTR irrrigation researcher speaking about spinner cuts with the Humphris PIT team.
They can be both modelled using new research that the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) are using to improve the precision of border check irrigation.
The Humphris PIT heard about this and the importance of good drainage at the second meeting for the Accelerating Change program. At the farm of Tim and Lyndal Humphris, of Tongala, discussion focused on the use of spinner cuts and how they can reduce the duration of transient waterlogging.
Now spinner cuts may not be the first thing that comes to mind in a project focusing on new technology! They have been around for a long time and have been tried and discarded by many farmers in the region, including Tim and Lyndal. However upgrading of infrastructure meaning faster flows on farm and new science which validates the benefits of them are bringing them back into focus. Paul Price, a member o...
A key component of the project is the close monitoring and data collection of existing farm performance, definition of business goals relating to these areas and development of strategies to meet these goals in conjunction with specialised advice, leading research and access to the latest technology.
The on farm activities that are underway or are being developed to achieve these include:
In depth analysing of current farming system and future options;
Monitoring of pasture and crop growth;
Monitoring of water use; and
Measuring and monitoring of other factors that drive profitability on farm, for example business management, animal management etc
The parameters and methodology to undertake this measurement on farm are being developed with our key project partner the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. Sign up to make you sure you get our next newsletter with more information.
Farmers attending the first meetings for the innovative Accelerating Change program are positive about their involvement and the benefits it will bring to their own farms.
Project Manager Amy Fay said the project is showcasing how leading farmers are using the latest research and technology to grow feed.
To do this, two partner farms – one owned by the Humphris family and the other by the Stewart family with their share-farmers the Matthews family – have started working with a team of farmers, researchers, consultants and service providers to achieve gains in irrigation and pasture efficiency by adopting leading research and technology on farm. The project is looking to a range of sources who are doing exciting things in the irrigation and pasture space, both regionally, interstate and in different sectors.
The farmers recently met with their performance innovation teams (PIT), which comprise farmers from 15 farms.
The PITs are providing feedback on how the partner farms are utilising...
Don and Meg Stewart operate three properties and along with share-farmers, Kelvin and Shelley Matthews, are participating in Accelerating Change on their Yarrawalla property, which totals 242ha and milks 600 cows.
The majority of this property has been upgraded to a pipe and riser system with full automation.
Their farm is an excellent example of a modernised system that has already incorporated the latest technology on farm, which many farmers in the region would aim for.
The Stewarts and Matthews' are expanding their use of soil moisture probes and more closely aligning individual paddock growth and utilisation with irrigation and other input application to drive efficiency and profitability.
The success of the Stewarts and the Matthews’ share-farming arrangement, leading to clear dual benefits for both parties, is a leading example to the industry.
Don and Meg are well established in the dairy industry and local community, hosting and participating in many past research and extensio...
Tim and Lyndal Humphris milk 325 cows on 150ha at Tongala.
The farm is an excellent example of a low cost, efficient and well laid out conventional gravity system with padman outlets.
This system is applicable to many dairy farmers in the region. The Humphris' have a strong interest in innovation and technology and have begun to use soil moisture probes to improve irrigation management over perennial pastures and maize to increase water use efficiency as well as overall total feed production. The Humphris' are increasing their use of soil moisture probes and installing automation over part of their irrigation base to drive the efficiency and profitability of their system.
Both Tim and Lyndal are closely engaged in the dairy industry as well as their local community. Lyndal is a Fairley scholarship recipient, member of the Murray Dairy Regional Extension and Education Committee (REEC) and has been a committee member of a number of local sporting and school committees. Tim is a former v...