Meet the Humphris'
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 veterinarian, a Breed Society task force member for Herd Improvement Industry Strategic Steering Group and chair of the technical and interbreed committee of the Australian Red Dairy Breed. The Humphris' have contributed to many research and extension projects in the region in the past and are involved in the Goulburn Dairy Business Discussion Group.
About the farm
The farm was purchased in 2008.
The soil types on the farm include Wanalta Loam, Wana Loam, Alta Clay Loam and Carag Clay and is considered to be well drained.
The farm has 264.3 ML HRWS and 187.7 ML LRWS. The AUL of the property is 1318 ML.
The farm is irrigated via Goulburn Murray Water’s gravity supply system and is situated on a backbone.
The dairy is a 44 stand rotary dairy, which normally milks 260 cows/hour with two operators.
Other infrastructure includes two houses, a winter standoff feed area for 400 cows, a calf shed for 100 calves, and a 24 metre machinery shed.
The irrigation layout consists of a conventional gravity system with padman outlets that has all been developed over the past 20 years, delivering 12 MGL/day to 60 metre bays.
For the 2014-15 season the fodder production platform consisted of:
70ha of ryegrass based perennial pasture
38ha of annual pasture
10ha of maize sown on the annual base
For the 2015-16 season the fodder production platform will consist of:
70ha of ryegrass based perennial pasture
11ha of fescue based perennial pasture
17ha of annual pasture
In the 2014-15 season the farm milked an average of 325 cows and peaked at 335 cows during spring 2014.
The herd size for 2015-16 will be similar.
Why they are involved
Tim and Lyndal Humphris are big supporters of developing the Murray dairy region and see Accelerating Change as a significant opportunity to not only achieve a faster rate of adoption of new technology and research on their own farm but also in the broader industry. The data collected through the project's monitoring and measurement strategy as well as access to a range of ideas and expertise is critical to improved outcomes of the Humphris farm as well as assisting practice change in their PIT and the wider industry. They have a number of aims or goals that they want to achieve by being a partner farm, including continuing to be a profitable dairy business and looking for opportunities to increase their profit markets.
The couple is also keen to maximise the opportunities to increase Home Grown Feed and to maintain their variable cost of HGF so that it is no more than 50 per cent of the cost of purchased lucerne hay.
What the farm meeting covered
The farmers who attended the Humphris' farm for the first farm visit believed it had a good overall layout.
It was explained that moisture probes had been installed last season and had proved effective for the maize crop but the Humphris' were less certain about benefits in perennial pasture.
They said that historically, there had been a perennial pasture and annual pasture base but poor yields over summer were encouraging movement to lucerne and fescue.
There was subsequent discussion around improved irrigation and drainage, particularly with the addition of spinner cuts.
It was also recommended that some poorer performing perennial pasture be converted to lucerne.
The farmers discussed the potential of an investment in irrigation automation. Significant discussion ensued in relation to the production benefits (considered small on the perennial pasture given the good layout and good management, but possibly more on irrigated lucerne) and the lifestyle benefits (considered large).
It was also suggested that an investment in feed troughs would help to minimise wastage.
As a result of the meetings, spinner cuts will be implemented in some perennial pasture bays and a section of perennial pasture will be sprayed out in late spring/summer and converted to lucerne.
The farmers also suggested that there be some measurement around actual pasture growth to compare the growth of fescue over summer compared to classic perennial pasture was necessary.