Southern Dairy Hub Q&A’s

What is the Southern Dairy Hub? A research and demonstration farm that will allow farmer-led and local issues to be researched on southern soils, in southern conditions.

How did it come about? It was established in response to Southland and Otago farmers wanting dairy challenges in the region to be addressed through local research and demonstration.

Where is it located? Makarewa, just north of Invercargill.

How big is the hub, and why does it need to be so large? 349ha. It is important the research is of sufficient scale to deliver robust results relevant to local farmers and provides for both wintering on farm and replacements to be carried.

When did conversion begin? November last year.

Is research underway? Yes, the first research trials are comparing the feed regimes of cows on fodder beet with those on kale. Research to validate DairyNZ’s Forage Value Index, a ranking system for ryegrass cultivars, is also due to begin this spring.

How many cows will be on farm? For the 2017/18 season 640 cows split into four different herds (one used as a control) to enable comparative research trials.

When did the farm become operational? The hub effectively became a working farm from 1 June, and calving is due to start 15 July.

How much did it cost to establish? At this stage to set-up the hub and purchase stock it has cost approximately $19.5 million.

Who funded the hub? The principal shareholders, DairyNZ and AgResearch, each invested $5 million, while through the Southern Dairy Development Trust (SDDT) local farmers and businesses added a further $1.25 million. Manageable debt has funded the balance.

What research will the hub focus on? The hub will compare and test new farm system options particularly around wintering, and nitrogen leaching levels across different forages and supplementary feeds.

Who determines the research topics? A research advisory committee made up of southern farmers and principal partner representatives. The committee assesses proposals to ensure objectivity, relevance, and applicability for southern farmers.  

Will the hub involve the community? Yes, open days and education days will be held at the hub to inform the community about the research happening at the hub.