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Welcome to Southern Dairy Hub

The Southern Dairy Hub has been established in response to Southland and Otago farmers wanting dairy challenges in the region to be addressed through local research and demonstration.

Mission and Strategic Direction of the Southern Dairy Hub

Farmers in the Southland region took the initiative to establish the Southern Dairy Development Trust (SDDT) and its fully owned registered trading company, the Southland Demonstration Farm (SDF) in 2007. The Charitable Trust Deed outlines that the purpose of the trust is for “the promotion of dairy farming in Southland and West Otago, and to assist, support and encourage existing dairy farmers and those interested in joining the dairy industry for general educational purposes”.  

Mission and Strategic Direction of the Southern Dairy Hub

Farmers in the Southland region took the initiative to establish the Southern Dairy Development Trust (SDDT) and its fully owned registered trading company, the Southland Demonstration Farm (SDF) in 2007. The Charitable Trust Deed outlines that the purpose of the trust is for “the promotion of dairy farming in Southland and West Otago, and to assist, support and encourage existing dairy farmers and those interested in joining the dairy industry for general educational purposes”.  

Following the expiry of the lease on the Southland Demonstration Farm at Wallacetown in 2016 SDDT and SDF approached DairyNZ and AgResearch seeking agreement to establish a dedicated Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) to facilitate dairying research and extension in the region. The anticipated benefits are predominantly associated with the ability for farmers, researchers and the industry body DairyNZ to work together to create new solutions for the Southland/Otago and New Zealand Dairy industries.

AgResearch, DairyNZ and SDDT have recognised the current scale and growth potential for dairying in Southland. However, there are significant local issues faced by farmers dealing with wet soils, cold winters and unique environmental issues. The region will require new levels of research and development activity and resourcing to provide solutions that reflect the area’s unique climate and soil conditions. Failing to find solutions to address environmental concerns within the context of long-term sustainable farm systems will impact on the ability of the dairy industry to grow in the region.

SDH Vision: to be an internationally recognised, innovative and leading centre of excellence for dairy farming, comparative research, and extension

SDH Mission: providing economic, social and environmentally sustainable solutions for the southern South Island dairy farmers and community

SDH Fundamental aims:

  • To improve the performance and protect the viability of existing dairy farms in the southern South Island.
  • To help develop and test new options for dairying in the southern South Island.
  • To support the responsible and sustainable growth of dairying in the southern South Island.
  • To promote the Dairy Industry Strategy.

SDH has leased the farm to the Operating Company (SDRF) for dairy farming and to conduct the research related to dairy farming.

The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) and SDH, together with representatives from the Southern dairy community, then decided the most significant issues facing farmers currently and now we are one year into our first 3-year project. The following section will provide some background on the process taken, what the key outcomes were and the current systems comparison.

The Farm

Farm Area

Milking platform: 309 ha

Support Block: 39 ha

Unproductive land: 2 ha

 

Milking infrastructure

60 bale rotary dairy with DeLaval plant and Delpro Herd Management software

Automatic cup removers and on-platform teat spray

Automatic drafting and weighing in the exit race

3 backing gates

Greenwash on the backing gate

Four research holding pens

Herringbone race and sampling area

The Farm

Farm Area

Milking platform: 309 ha

Support Block: 39 ha

Unproductive land: 2 ha

 

Milking infrastructure

60 bale rotary dairy with DeLaval plant and Delpro Herd Management software

Automatic cup removers and on-platform teat spray

Automatic drafting and weighing in the exit race

3 backing gates

Greenwash on the backing gate

Four research holding pens

Herringbone race and sampling area

 

Climate

Up to the 23/5/19

Mean Annual Maximum Temperature –  17.7 oC

Mean Annual Minimum Temperature – 5.4 oC

Average Annual Soil Temperature – 11.0 oC

Average Annual Rainfall – 785.4 mm

 

Soil Types

Table 1: Soil types, locations and characteristics on farm

Soil type Location Characteristics
Edendale Top terrace Well drained, high WHC, seldom dries out
Pukemutu Through centre of farm Poorly drained due to sub surface pan between 600 and 900 mm deep. Vulnerable to waterlogging.
Pukemutu/ Makarewa Bottom terrace  
Makarewa   Poor aeration during wet periods due to poor sub surface drainage and slow permeability. Severely vulnerable to waterlogging in wet periods.

 

 

Soil Test Results (Winter 2018)

Data from 38 paddocks (17 support block, 87 milking platform)

Table 2: Soil test results (winter 2018)

  pH P K S Mg
Milking platform 6.2 27 6 9 14
Support Block 6.0 54 7 11 9

 

Pastures

220 ha (71%) of the milking platform was resown at conversion in 2017. Of this 160 ha was fully cultivated, 43 ha direct drilled and 17 ha undersown with annual; ~46.4 ha was sown in 5 star FVI pastures, and ~46.4 ha in 1 star FVI pastures. The following cultivars were used across the remainder of the farm: Prospect, Excess, Rely and Platform.

 

Staffing and management

Roster System – It has been 8 on 2 off, 8 on 3 off in the later part of 2019

Milking Times – cups on at 5 am / 2 pm

 

Effluent System

Two receiving ponds with weeping walls, leading into a storage pond. Effluent applied by travelling irrigator. Solids cleared out November 2018. Some effluent applied by umbilical system in March 2019.

 

Mating Programme Spring 2018

MA cows – Mostly crossbred semen, some Friesian. Short gestation (SG) Hereford semen used over identified culls. 6 weeks AB, 3 weeks with Hereford bulls, followed by 1-week AB to SG Hereford.

 

R2s – Synchronised, four days of AB to crossbred semen, followed by 27 days with Hereford bulls.

 

Herd Details – May 2019

Table 3: BW and PW as of May 20th 2019

  BW PW
Cows 83/45 118/70
Youngstock 110/31 131/11

 

Calving start date 2019

6th August – rising 2-year olds

10th August – mixed age cows

 

Wintering

All mixed age cows and rising 2-yr olds wintered on kale or fodder beet on the milking platform

All rising 1-yr olds wintered on kale or fodder beet on the support block

Weekly Data

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Research

DairyNZ and AgResearch updates

About the Hub

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