Fodder for the Future: New research

Murray Dairy is wrapping up its flagship research project, Fodder for the Future. This project was a $1.6million cross sectoral collaboration that was focused on researching ways to improve the quality and yield of silage and hay produced by alternative forages such as winter cereals, legumes and summer forages.

Funded by the Australian Government by the Murray Darling Basin Economic Diversification Fund, the project was led by Murray Dairy and delivered under a partnership model with Agriculture Victoria, Birchip Cropping Group, Irrigated Cropping Council, The University of Melbourne, Riverine Plains and Southern Growers.


The project established six trial sites spread across the entire Murray Dairy region to showcase the biophysical performance of different winter cereals, vetch, maize and grain sorghum for fodder production. The trial sites collected comprehensive data on what impacted yield and quality of different species in different geographical regions and different climatic conditions.


Murray Dairy Project Manager Amy Fay said the project had unearthed some surprising results that highlighted the importance of investing in regional agronomy trials to support efficient dairy production.


“Our trials sites were spread all the way from Mitiamo to Finley. During the project, we had everything from near drought conditions to inundation from widespread flooding,” Amy said.


“Our results showed the significant impact regional climatic conditions have on quality of forages, with only 15 per cent of samples collected meeting the hay standards sought for a milking herd diet.


“This highlights the complexities of growing high-quality hay – but also the opportunities to improve feed conversion if closer attention and investment is put to achieving quality both on farm and in the market."


Amy said the project had unearthed a variety of information about the impact of different management strategies on quality and yield including nutrient management, seeding rates, weed control and cutting time but the overwhelming drivers of success related to local soils and seasonal conditions.


“Our data really shows the variability of performance that exists both between different geographical regions within a given year, but also between different years given the variability of seasonal conditions we experience in the Murray region,” Amy explained.


“This absolutely highlights the value of local research to inform on farm decision-making. We deliberately set this project up to specifically understand what the challenges and opportunities to growing high quality fodder are in our region, where farmers are investing into and changing their feedbase systems.


“This is just the beginning.”


A key output of the project is the development of the Fodder for the Future Network, spanning key organisations involved in the delivery of project activities.


This network has emerged as a critical vehicle to share technical knowledge on how to improve fodder production, as well as engage farmers from both the fodder industry and the dairy industry effectively.

As a result of the project, Murray Dairy is working with Dairy Australia, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Gardiner Foundation to further the Fodder for the Future investment.


The next phase of C4Milk Research Program will feature for the first time a specific body of work in the Murray region to further the outcomes of the Fodder for the Future project. This will include a focus on the performance of a variety of alternative forages in an intensive cropping species rotation specifically designed for PMR and TMR feedbase systems in the Murray region.


Murray Dairy is continuing to analyse the results of the Fodder for the Future project to incorporate the research into new and existing extension programs as well as the next phase of research with the C4Milk program.


For more information about the Fodder for the Future project, please contact Amy Fay at

You're viewing the Murray Dairy website. To view other regional dairy information, select a region.
Cookies help Dairy Australia improve your website experience. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.