The 231-hectare, 500-cow farm is Australia’s leading dairy innovation facility, Ellinbank SmartFarm, which is fast-tracking innovative technologies in a research environment and showing them in a way that is accessible to the dairy industry.
Research projects being conducted are focusing on a range of improvements including optimising homegrown feed to improve farm operating profit, better health and welfare of cows by reducing the negative impacts of extreme heat events, increased production performance of cows while reducing costs, and sustainably increasing annual milk production through a better understanding of herd nutrition and pasture management.
The SmartFarm is also becoming carbon-neutral by reducing methane emissions, improving fertiliser and manure management, and generating electricity through several options including solar, wind, hydro and bio-digestion.
The farm will also soon be home to the Agriculture Energy Demonstration and Education program, which is being supported through the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan — a $30 million Victorian Government investment that helps farmers reduce their energy costs and be more energy efficient.
Technologies that will be trialled and demonstrated at the farm include roof-mounted solar panels and battery storage, wind turbines, pumped hydro, temperature management in the dairy and the use of waste for energy.
The Ellinbank SmartFarm is also backed through the government’s $115 million Agriculture Strategy, which aims to position Victoria as a leader in low-emissions agriculture and increasing the adoption of new, effective and fit-for-purpose technology.
Agriculture Victoria is working to open the farm to visitors later this year so farmers can see the technology in action.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the smart farm was a perfect example of innovative next-generation farming.
“It’s really exciting to see the work being done here to make Victorian farming stronger,” she said.
“An important part of the work being done here is making it accessible to industry, so that knowledge can immediately be put to use on-farm — this will mean instant effects on efficiency, productivity and costs.”