Extreme weather preparation

Feb 19, 2016

Extreme weather conditions in February continue to challenge farmers across all dairying regions. Bushfires in Tasmania and Western Australia have impacted dairy farms. As farm businesses may be affected by elements beyond their control, preparing for threats is essential to protect your family, staff, livestock and business. ADF’s primary focus is to ensure famers are equipped with fundamental information and to work with its state members with recovery efforts.

 

To access resources and tools to help manage extreme weather events, refer to Dairy Australia’s website here.

Introducing ADF's New Director's...

Jan 18, 2016

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is pleased to welcome new Business Director, Terry Richardson and Independent Director, Dr Dedee Woodside, alongside recently elected President, Simone Jolliffe to the ADF Board following the ADF Annual General Meeting on 26 November 2015.

With significant experience in various agriculture roles, as well as through their diverse industry leadership and advocacy roles, both Board members are exceedingly well qualified for their Board position, each bringing a unique perspective to the table.

ADF interviewed each Director to find out a bit more about them. We asked them what they believe the most important policy issues are for ADF to focus on in 2016...

Terry Richardson

As a native New Zealander I have great appreciation for the vast geographical challenges that Australian dairy farmers face. As a dairy farmer I know that it is difficult to prepare and mitigate these challenges unless we are building sustainable business models. In order to achieve this it is essential to be profitable. For these reasons I believe the short term and long term goals of ADF are intrinsically linked.

Our policy focus will always be set by what stands in the way of building a stronger future for our industry. This will mean the continued implementation of projects that propel us toward the industry’s vision to become prosperous, trusted and world renowned for nutrition.

In order to help achieve this vision, ADF can develop its communication of the role policy plays in helping us be profitable. Price will always be on the front page, but policy is always bubbling away behind the scenes – we often don’t hear much about it. Yet without strong policies that address everything from competition issues to research and development funding, it is impossible for our industry to be profitable. For this reason I am keen to work with ADF to continue to build our members and non-members’ understanding of how important policy is to what we do.

Through key achievements such as the pro-dairy China-Australia FTA we have seen how effective our industry is when united – we must continue this unity in order to see improved policy outcomes for our industry in future.

Dr Dedee Woodside

Dairy’s central focus for 2016 appears to increasingly be on water, soils and energy – and the availability, quality and sustainability of these resources.

I am attracted to the idea that with such a buzz around environmental responsibility and impact at the moment there is a real opportunity for the Australian dairy industry to make some headway on issues of concern to our farmers, processors and consumers. In particular with the recent Paris Climate Summit and the Australian Government’s commitment to energy targets we can highlight that this isn’t an overnight process. Our industry needs strong thought and planning to ensure we are achieving our environmental targets in a way that is reasonable and practical.

Already the industry has begun on this path, particularly in light of the growing opportunity in overseas markets and talk of expanding production. I am interested to contribute to this discussion, to understand whether growth is really a viable option and to understand what the limits are; where we can be smarter about our operations and where we need to change tactics entirely.

I am excited to be a part of ADF’s journey under a new President, Simone Jolliffe and a part of an industry that is growing, changing and opening up. The next few years will be very interesting.

ADF President, Simone Jolliffe welcomed the new additions to the Board and said she looks forward to working with them in 2016.

“Their vision and ideas will help ADF in its work to promote the interests and sustainable profitability of all Australian dairy farmers,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

For more information on ADF’s Directors see www.australiandairyfarmers.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.


Climate variability drives on farm innovation

Nov 23, 2015

A concerted effort to reduce power costs and dairy’s environmental footprint is seeing increasing numbers of Australian producers implement more efficient, ‘green’ on farm practices.

In Athlone, Gippsland former mechanical engineer and seventh generation dairy farmer, Lindsay Anderson is harnessing solar energy to the benefit of reduced on-farm costs. Converting all his large single-phase motors to three-phase motors using variable speed drives as phase converters, Mr Anderson has implemented renewable technology throughout his business. He devised a 5 kilo-watt grid-connected solar system which supplies power to his automatic milking system, his workshop and farm house.

This system provides enough power to feedback through the grid for a payment each quarter – providing some additional income for Mr Anderson.

“This system can save me between 15 to 33% of electricity consumption,” Mr Anderson said. 

It also means there is even less diesel used on the property so the environment will also be better off.

According to dairy’s 2014 Sustainability Framework Progress Report, Mr Anderson is one of many dairy farmers adopting energy efficient procedures on farm. Since 2012 40% of farms have installed some form of renewable energy installation.

Chair of the Sustainability Framework Steering Committee, Chris Griffin said that dairy producers have always been stewards of the land, and are constantly getting smarter about energy efficiency on farm.

“Dairy farmers have a real commitment to managing land and water responsibly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources for future generations. They are constantly reviewing their practices in response to seasonal conditions and a changing climate,” said Mr Griffin.

“As a bonus, many farmers are finding that these measures are cost effective.”

Working with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and Dairy Australia, the ADIC has lobbied hard to secure Government funding to support uptake of energy efficient technology on farm. Combined with industry investment, Federal and state programs have assisted farmers and manufacturers with the upfront capital costs in energy efficient or renewable energy technology, and therefore increased uptake.

The dairy industry has seen the benefit of such co-funded initiatives through Dairy Australia and the Federal Government’s Energy Efficiency Information Program. These nationwide assessments have already helped 1,400 farms. Guidelines have also been developed to complement these assessments and provide information about where energy is used in dairies, as well as identify where greater efficiency can be found.

In two years since the Sustainability Framework was implemented, manufacturers’ use of fuel and electricity has reduced by 14.5%. Together, the whole value chain is vigorously pursuing its target of reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020.

“We will continue with programs and projects that are guiding the industry toward improved returns, while minimising our environmental footprint and improving the wellbeing of our people and animals,” Mr Griffin explained.

“There is still work to be done, but we are most definitely headed in the right direction.”

Earlier this year, ADF shifted its climate change policy, calling for joint industry and government investment in adopting energy efficient technologies on farm. Chair of the ADF Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group, Daryl Hoey said the revised policy highlights to Parliament, consumers and the broader community that the industry remains actively engaged in reducing its environmental impact.

“The scientific evidence, international policy, and public interest in increased climate variability justify industry action. Our whole value chain strives to continually reduce its environmental footprint, through uptake of new technologies, improved management and adoption of farming systems to suit climate variability,”

“The Australian Government can promote the industry’s effective response to climate variability through sustained investment in agriculture R, D&E and the uptake of energy efficient technologies on farm.”

This includes new solutions that both reduce emissions and improve profitability, international research collaboration, and methodologies that support a whole-farm-systems approach in reducing emissions.

“The Australian dairy industry is keenly observing the Government’s response to the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris this December,” Mr Hoey said.

“We are aware the outcomes of this event may impact the Australian Government’s approach to emissions reduction policy. We want to ensure any policy initiatives do not undermine our trade exposed industry, but instead support dairy farmers’ ability to manage risk, innovate and adapt to climate variability.”

For more information on ADF's policy on carbon emissions and climate change click here

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