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October 27, 2014 gumption

Western Dairy Research Development and Extension Hub

The Western Dairy Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Hub has celebrated its first year of operationsin partnership with SWCC in 2015/16.

The Western Dairy hub is hosted by SWCC and funded through Dairy Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA. It allows cutting edge dairy research and Natural Resource Management principles to value add, for more effective and efficient sustainable agriculture outcomes.

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

The RD&E Hub has achieved a number of key outcomes during 2015/16. Whilst Ruairi McDonnell and Martin Staines continue to lead on-ground research and Jessica Andony providing drive in the young dairy network and extension roles, the hub attracted a new leader in Kirk Reynolds. Kirk came to the team in February and prior he worked with CSBP fertilisers. He is in charge of leading the team as well as delivering the business and feedbase skills to farmers in his extension capacity.

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 farm.

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.

The research team have also had their first international publication occur this year, with a paper accepted in CSIRO’s publishing of the Animal Production Science journal.

In the field, the team is continuing to explore the effects of lime on the dry matter production of ryegrass.
Many extension activities have also taken place, covering all aspects of dairy. The team also had a massive celebration of all things dairy with its infamous Dairy Innovation Day that attracted more than 420 attendees!

“The WA Dairy Research and Extension Hub is under the watchful eyes of many industries around Australia. It leads the charge as the industry body engages with research institutes, as well as commercial and government bodies, to deliver positive improvement in the WA dairy industry. It is exciting times and we are very proud of our achievements to date.”,
Kirk Reynolds, Western Dairy Agribusiness Team Leader.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

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.

This will be an important partnership as we move in to the new Regional Estuaries Initiative project in the coming years.

FUN FACT

Cows are social animals, and they naturally form large herds. And like people, they will make friends and bond to some herd members, while avoiding others. Did you know that 1 dairy cow creates 4 full time jobs in their local community?

Project Manager

Kirk Reynolds

Key Partners