At SDH we are primarily carrying out multi-year farm system evaluations. From this platform we can do a lot of additional short term or small trials on specific items too.
The farm is run as four distinct farmlets where each farmlet has it's own paddocks and cows which won't change within the season OR between years of the 2-4 year trial. The cows are split evenly at the start, as are the paddocks so that our farm map looks like a four coloured patchwork quilt to give all cows even access to soil type, contour, walking distance and paddock history.
We set some really strict rules for how each of our four farmlets can operate, and then we measure any and all differences that occur throughout a normal farming system. This includes looking at cow performance, reproduction, financial comparisons, environmental footprint, manageability and people requirements of the system and many more elements.
Weather and soil effects on animal behaviour
Monitoring cows on winter crops to measure lying times in good and bad weather
Effect of crop type on calf size and traits
Fodder beet vs kale wintering of pregnant cows – resulting impacts on calf stature (size) and bone density.
SFF Participatory research
Comparing SDH farms to four regional farmers, and looking at changes to environmental footprints from farm modelling changes including Greenhouse Gas
Crop type & allocation effect on behaviour & lactation performance
Milk production in Spring after different rates of different crops fed over winter
Feeding behaviour of R1 heifers on fodder beet or kale
Measuring growth rate of calves on kale vs fodderbeet and assessing differences intime spent ruminating.
Forage value index validation
Interaction between genetic merit potential of perennial ryegrass cultivars and nitrogen fertiliser in a pastoral grazing system
Catch crops for cleaner water - Lysimeter trial
Measuring ground water leaching under column lysimeters, under winter sown catch crops sown at different dates