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Massey farm to showcase dairy solutions

Monday, September 30, 2013

Massey farm to showcase dairy solutions

A Massey dairy farm is testing the latest developments and thinking on how to farm responsibly and competitively in a sensitive river catchment.

Massey University is talking with dairy farmers, wider industry agencies, relevant agribusiness companies and local government about trialling the effectiveness and profitability of innovative systems on its No1 Dairy Farm.

Massey University Assistant Vice-Chancellor Operations Stuart Morriss says consumers want to know that what they are buying has been produced in a way that is sensitive to the environment and Massey has a unique opportunity to work with the dairy industry to do this.

“Our No1 Dairy research farm is on the banks of the Manawatu River and can be seen by all who cross the Fitzherbert Avenue bridge,” Mr Morriss says. “With help from the industry we are identifying management systems and technologies that are both competitive and environmentally responsible with a view to implementing them on the farm.

Massey’s Professor of Dairy Production Systems, supported by DairyNZ, Danny Donaghy is leading the research programme for the initiative at No1 Dairy Farm. “We are talking with the industry, with farmers, regulatory authorities, and companies about how we can work together so the whole community benefits.”

He says the national Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming provides a pathway for New Zealand’s future and there are several areas where research will be important to progress.

“We will identify what research is needed and gather the evidence for what works best for a dairy farm on the banks of a river,” he says. “It’s about testing to see if those ‘laboratory discoveries’ and ‘innovations from farmers’ will work in a commercial dairying operation. No1 Dairy Farm provides us with an excellent platform to do this and we have the research expertise and relationships within the sector to achieve it.”

The first of several changes has been a move to once-a-day milking this spring. This is part of exploring option for a 40-hour work week for dairy farmers. Future changes are likely to include development of the land by the river including tree planting.

Many of the changes will be difficult to see as they are about measuring what is happening in the farming operation. The plans include measuring just about everything that moves on the farm. That includes the health and production of each cow and the pasture it eats, the nutrient and water movements on the farm, the weather and the impact on people working on the farm. Researchers will use this information to assess management systems and technologies being trialled on the farm.

Mr Morriss says the project aims to develop and showcase profitable and responsible dairy farming, something that all New Zealanders can be proud.


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