Our Story

Located close to Invercargill, the Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) was established in 2017 as a research farm.

SDH is the largest farm of its type in New Zealand and one of the bigger ones internationally – something the whole region can be proud of. The Southern Dairy Hub’s 349-hectare facility is jointly invested in by southern dairy farmers, AgResearch and DairyNZ.

It operates as a working dairy farm as well as a site for important research that gives farmers great data to help them make decisions about their environmental footprint, profitability and looking after their animals. It’s targeted at the very specific regional challenges local farmers face because of soil types and weather conditions.

It’s thanks to the generosity of the community, sponsors, and funders that it’s able to deliver the groundbreaking research that it does.

With four farmlet systems of about 200 cows each to allow direct comparisons, the Hub and its research team trial the performance of different crops, feeding approaches and systems, focusing on the impacts on productivity and profitability.

SDH By the Numbers


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.

When did conversion begin?

November 2016.

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?

To set-up the hub and purchase stock it has cost approximately $19.5 million.

Who founded 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 is the current structure?


As of 1 June 2024, the Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) has implemented a streamlined governance structure aimed at enhancing efficiency and driving better outcomes for all stakeholders. This reorganisation consolidates all Hub operations and assets under one entity and one Board, marking a significant shift from the previous structure.

Consolidation of Boards

  • The SDH and SDRF Boards have been merged into one, simplifying governance and management.

  • Simon Flood, Chair of the SDH, now leads the consolidated Board, ensuring a unified approach to decision-making and strategy.

Ownership and Assets

  • All Hub operations and assets, including the SDRF, now fall under the ownership of one entity.

  • SDH has acquired the assets of SDRF, such as the herd, tractors and farm operating equipment, streamlining ownership and management.

Benefits of the New Structure

  • Reduction of administrative burden: The streamlined structure eliminates duplication and overlap, freeing up resources for more focused activities.

  • Improved communication and engagement: With one entity and one Board, stakeholders have more direct access to the Hub, facilitating better collaboration and faster decision-making.

  • Continuity and stability: Existing Hub employees have seamlessly transitioned to the new entity, ensuring continuity in operations and stability in the workforce.

Looking Ahead

The new streamlined structure sets the stage for increased collaboration, efficiency and innovation at the Southern Dairy Hub. We are committed to leveraging these changes to drive positive outcomes for southern dairy farmers and the sector as a whole.

How did it
all start?


The Southern Dairy Development Trust (SDDT) is a charitable trust and was borne out of an initiative in 2007 to establish an entity that could provide Southland with a dedicated research or demonstration farm focused on dairying.

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). The Southland Demonstration Farm Limited, which originally leased a farm at Wallacetown, and then leased and operated an 800-cow dairy farm near Makarewa.

The scheduled expiry of the lease on the farm at Wallacetown encouraged SDDT to seek a more permanent solution to meet the needs of the Southern Dairying community.

The SDDT and SDF approached DairyNZ and AgResearch who then formed a partnership with SDDT to establish a dedicated Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) to facilitate dairying research and extension.


When the lease on the Southern Demonstration Farm ended, southern farmers and businesses committed an additional $1.2 million to establish a dedicated Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) to facilitate dairying research and extension in the region.

With investment from DairyNZ and AgResearch, the 349ha drystock property at Wallacetown was purchased and converted into what is probably the largest pastoral Agricultural Research facility on the planet. 

Thanks to our Partners

We wouldn't be here without the foresight and vision of these organisations who invested in the development and establishment of SDH

We want to hear from you!

If you have a research idea, want to visit the Hub, or something is missing from our website - let us know!

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