Industry sustainability commitments recognised

Jun 14, 2016

Keeping Australian dairy in business for the long term. This was the catch-phrase of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework when it was first endorsed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) in 2012.

This long term thinking is especially relevant today, says the Chair of the Framework’s Steering Committee, Chris Griffin, a Gippsland dairy farmer.

“The Australian dairy industry is facing unprecedented challenges, yet securing our industry’s triple bottom line approach to sustainability remains as important as ever,” Chris says.

“Although the industry’s immediate priority is to support dairy farmers through the recent step downs, the Framework helps us keep an eye on the horizon. Importantly it tracks our progress and drives practice change where necessary to ensure the industry is sustainable for the long term.”

In June, the ADIC was recognised for its sustainability framework by the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) with its 2016 Organisation Leadership Award.

Judges said that the Framework was “exceptional and inspiring, particularly its whole-of-supply-chain focus; rigorous targets and reporting; impacts to date; stakeholder and community involvement; and communication”. They also recognised the Framework’s potential to act as a model for other whole-of-industry approaches for an even broader impact.

Further acknowledgement of the value of the Framework and support for dairy farmers’ commitment to sustainable production comes from Ian McConnell at WWF Australia, a member of a stakeholder reference group for the project, the Dairy Sustainability Consultative Forum.

“The value of the Framework is helping the dairy industry to know where the pressure points are coming from,” says Ian.

“By being in front of the issues, the industry can better shape its response. And when issues do emerge, such as pricing or producer profitability, it can be in more control and shape the conversation.

“It’s not just about the milk. The Framework helps Australian dairy to tell the wider story about the industry and its producers.”

Whenever a dairy farmer takes steps to improve their business or their practices, or reduces their environmental impact, they are contributing to the industry’s progress on sustainability under the Framework,” says Chris.

“The challenge is to make sure we are focussed on targets that will deliver the best outcomes for the industry, the community and the environment.”

For more information, visit www.dairysustainabilityoz.com.au

 

World Soil Day: Farmers, soil stewards

Dec 05, 2015

Saturday 5 December, is World Soil Day. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations kicked off World Soil Day of recognition in 2002, and we’re using the occasion to celebrate the role healthy soils play in building productive and profitable farms.

By getting the trace elements in the soil right, farmers on Australian dairy farms often find they have the potential to drive increased milk production higher.  

Regular soil testing is necessary to make informed decisions on fertiliser use and soil management and the interpretation of soil test results is key to making the most cost-effective fertiliser choice. Dairying for Tomorrow’s Fert$mart program includes a range of tools to help advisers and farmers get soil “right” and make informed, cost-effective fertiliser management decisions.

Australian Dairy Farmer’s (ADF) Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group Chair, Daryl Hoey said insufficient fertiliser negatively impacts on pasture growth. This means less pasture and means farmers have to increase supplementary feeding or reduce stocking rates. Too much fertiliser, or fertilising at the wrong time means wasted resources.

“The key is to have the balance in soil just right so that nutrients are available for optimal pasture growth and are not lost in run-off into waterways and dams,” Mr Hoey said.

Soil health can also be improved by the implementation of a well-managed effluent system. Effluent is a valuable resource for reducing fertiliser costs, increasing soil fertility, adding organic matter to soil and providing valuable nutrients and moisture to crops and pastures.

“We now have a better understanding of effluent management than ever before,” Mr Hoey said. “The industry has moved away from a waste product mentality to taking a resource utilisation approach and, as a result, not only do we have improved productivity on farm, we are leaving our soils in better condition now and for future generations.”

Australia's dairy farmers have always had a strong commitment to environmental sustainability with industry bodies such as ADF and Dairy Australia coordinating a range of industry programs to help farmers manage fertiliser use, improve soil health and minimise the impact of effluent.

The dairy industry’s sustainability framework Mr Hoey explained, underpins the whole of value chain effort to minimise the environmental footprint of dairy.

“The framework has been used to identify priority areas, goals and objectives for sustainability,” said Mr Hoey. “It sets the scene for industry programs like Fer$mart and farmer investment and practices to deliver better results for both farmers and the environment.”

“Dairy farmers have a real commitment to managing land and water responsibly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources for future generations,” said Mr Hoey. 

“And as a bonus, many farmers are finding that, with proper soil and fertiliser management, they can produce more feed at no extra cost.”

To find out more about the role healthy soils play on Australian dairy farms take a look here.


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