Science puts the future of dairy in focus

REDUCING greenhouse gases while enhancing dairy system efficiency is the challenge being faced by one of the five inspiring young scientists who presented at the Australian Dairy Conference last week in Hobart.

Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences PhD candidate Sineka Munidasa says addressing the climate change challenge is two-fold and includes the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and the adaptation to the more variable climate.

“We hear the term climate change a lot,” Ms Munidasa says.

“Through my PhD studies, I am going to explore how we can look at dairy production in more sustainable ways to minimise the challenges coming from it.”

Her objective is to investigate the applicability of combinations of mitigation and adaptation strategies for different dairy farming systems and dairy regions and assess the policy options at the farm level in the future.

“Almost all the farmers I’ve spoken to so far implement some of these strategies already,” she said. “So far, we consider them (adaptation and mitigation) separately. “However, we have to think about them together because they bring more benefits to the environment and our industry.”

Sineka said farms need to start with an analysis of their emission hotspots to bring awareness of where they come from and the areas to focus on as all farming systems are different, so different tactics are required.

“I am talking with farmers about what they are already implementing, and I am going to find some of the other strategies that fit with those as a lot of farmers already are adapting their systems for climate change,” she said.

“Overall, I expect to give a comprehensive picture of how each case study farm might perform with introduced adaptation and mitigation strategies under future climate scenarios.”

The results will be available in mid-2023 and detail the lowest emission profile that can be achieved together with adaptation approaches.

Other young scientist presentations included topics on the impact of genetic selection on inbreeding, bobby calf welfare, early decision-making on farm impacts profitability, pasture agronomy, and remote sensing