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Southern Dairy Hub site found

Thursday 18 February, 2016

Southern Dairy Hub site found

Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) chair Maurice Hardie says the vision of a southern research and development dairying centre is much closer to being realised with a conditional agreement on two properties now having been reached pending the satisfaction of a number of minimum requirements for both parties.

"This is an important milestone in our plan to build a facility that is a partnership between local farmers, DairyNZ and AgResearch; the new farm will enable local dairy farming issues to be researched on southern soils in southern conditions," he says.

"During late December 2015 and early January 2016 we completed conditional sales and purchase agreements for two adjoining properties. The agreements are however subject to considerable due diligence by ourselves and one of the vendors," says Maurice.

Due diligence may take up to 180 days allowing time for the completion of the necessary resource consenting, design, planning and business case models to be approved by all of the investors.

"Our aim is to start developing the properties from the beginning of October 2016 with the construction of infrastructure starting late October 2016 and the delivery of a completed facility by 1 June 2017."

The Southern Dairy Hub is a collaborative project being developed by AgResearch, DairyNZ and the Southern Dairy Development Trust with a proposed cost of $26.5 million to build. More than $1.3 million has been pledged by local southern farmers. The completed Hub will allow for dairy farmer-led and local issues to be researched on southern soils in southern conditions.

Finding a suitable site has taken a lot longer than anticipated due the specific requirements of the Hub which include locality, scale and a balance of soils that reflect the farms in the region to ensure research and demonstration is relevant, says Maurice.

The Southern Dairy Hub will include a 300-380ha dairy farm with four comparative herds of about 200 cows each, as well as buildings for research, demonstration, education and farmer meetings.

To meet the requirements of SDH, the farm needs to be self-contained and big enough to support not only the milking platform but also be suitable for rearing young stock and wintering. A variety of soil types are preferred to allow regionally-appropriate research around environmental and wintering options for southern farms. Location is important. Ideally, the farm should be in central Southland and within 30 minutes of Invercargill airport so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.

"Finding all these attributes on one property has been challenging, and while there is still some work to done, we are a lot closer to making the Southern Dairy Hub a reality thanks to the commitment from local dairy farmers, the Southland Agribusiness community, DairyNZ and AgResearch," says Maurice.

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