Dairy research set to lead the nation

A MULTIMILLION dollar major transformation of the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture’s Dairy Research Facility at Elliott will give Tasmania the opportunity to lead the nation in contemporary research and innovation to support efficiencies and sustainability in the dairy industry.

Situated on lush green pastures with picturesque views overlooking Table Cape, the Research Facility (TDRF) is arguably one of the best ‘offices’ in the world. It’s about to become even better with an upgrade that will equip the facility to undertake whole-farm systems research using farmlets or mini farms – an approach to dairy research currently not happening anywhere else in Australia.

The new research aims to find practical ways that farmers can halve the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser used on dairy farms without negatively impacting productivity.

A recent dramatic increase in the cost of nitrogen fertilisers has become a key challenge for the profitability of dairy farms and the ability to reduce nitrogen use will result in significant cost-savings for farmers, as well as important environmental benefits.

The $7.8 million upgrades are the result of a joint investment from the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania to support future success of TIA’s research farms in the North-West, also including the Forthside Vegetable Research Facility.

The investment will underpin a Region of Excellence for applied agriculture research and demonstration to industry. The scale of the upgrades at TDRF includes a new 50-bay rotary dairy, a new 12.5 megalitre effluent dam, increased irrigation water storage capacity in one of the dams from 24 to 115 megalitres, 11km of underground irrigation pipeline, and the conversion of 32ha of previously unirrigated land for farmlet trials.