Major research project for sustainable growth in pasture-based dairy regions

As part of Dairy Australia’s ongoing partnership with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), a new five-year research project addressing the growing interest in reducing the reliance on nitrogen fertilisers used in pasture production has recently commenced. The project aims to deliver national feedbase insights which could lead to significant cost savings for farmers, home-grown feedbase optimisation and important environmental outcomes.

Named Dairy HIGH (short for High Integrity Grass-fed Herds), the research project identifies positive outcomes for pasture-based dairy farms by reducing synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use and improving milk production efficiency from low-cost grazed pasture systems. Other elements of the project are focussed on adding economic value for Non-Replacement Dairy Cows (NRDCs), as well as the enhancement and development of people and skills.

The project has seen the construction of a purpose-built dairy at the TIA’s Dairy Research Facility at Elliott in north west Tasmania and the establishment of four new farmlets (or mini farms), to research strategies for reducing reliance on synthetic fertiliser and its impacts under real farm conditions. 
Overseeing Dairy HIGH 2 is Dairy Australia’s Technical Lead in Feedbase and Nutrition, Rodrigo Albornoz. Mr Albornoz explains how cost savings and environmental benefits can be achieved. 

“If similar utilised pasture production and milk solids can be achieved with half the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser commonly applied per hectare – without increasing concentrate per cow feeding levels – we can implement significant cost savings,” Mr Albornoz explains. “This is while reducing the environmental impacts of nitrogen losses to the environment.” 

The project team aims to achieve 17 tonnes of dry matter utilisation from irrigated pasture and 1,800 kg milk solids per hectare per year using only 150 units of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. If successful, this will represent a reduction of close to half of the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser that is commonly used.
“With the research project conducted in Tasmania, the findings of the five-year project of Dairy HIGH will hopefully support sustainable and long-term growth across other similar pasture-based farming systems in Australia,” explains Mr Albornoz.

“Our aim is to deliver the kinds of beneficial insights that can be practically implemented, helping dairy farmers thrive in the current changing environment.” 

Read more about the Transformation of TIA's Dairy Research Facility at Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.

For more information about this project, contact

Learn more about fertilisers, including nitrogen fertiliser here



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