WORKING in dairy extension, Alison Hall was keen to make sure her studies counted on farm when embarking on a PhD.
The Tasmanian researcher looked to pasture — a key profit driver in dairy — and chose to focus on the technology used to measure and manage it.
Ms Hall said 63 per cent of Tasmanian dairy farmers own a pasture measurement tool, but of these, 24 per cent did not use it.
Distributing a survey to all of Tasmania’s 440 dairy farmers and receiving 162 back, it provided an insight into how pasture measurement and management tools were used, or not used, within the industry.
She said 65 per cent had used a tool to measure pasture previously and 43 per cent used it during an “intense period” of training for measuring, either weekly or fortnightly for six months or more.
“The longer dairy farmers spend using a tool measuring pasture, the more accurate they become at visually accessing how much feed is in a paddock,” Ms Hall told the Australian Dairy Conference earlier this month.
“If farmers only use the tool to measure for a short period they miss out on the benefits.”
One farm that was achieving low pasture consumption levels increased it by an average of 65 per cent through regularly measuring, Ms Hall said. Those at the higher end of pasture consumption also saw improvements through regular measuring, receiving indirect benefits such as better feed allocation.
Ms Hall said it was not necessary to measure the entire farm, but rather focus on paddocks where the cows had come from or were going into to develop an understanding of how much pasture was in there.
Ms Hall, who is completing a PhD through the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania, won the Dow Agrosciences Young Dairy Scientists Award at the Australian Dairy Conference.
By: SIMONE SMITH
Source: The Weekly Times