The inaugural round of the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund has awarded grants up to $100,000 to farmers for projects including solar-powered desalination, milk sensor technology, enhanced bushfire protection, herd-monitoring technology and dairy automation.
Close to 500 applications were received from farmers, spanning dairy regions, supply relationships and a wide array of projects.
The calibre of submissions demonstrated the thoughtful strategic planning underway on dairy farms across the country as the industry continues to invest in a prosperous, resilient future.
“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to support the drive and ambition of future focused Australian dairy farmers through the Dairy Innovation Fund,” Woolworths director of buying Paul Harker said.
“The applications show Australian dairy farmers have their eyes firmly fixed on the sustainable future of the industry and are keen to invest in new technology and infrastructure to build thriving farms for generations to come.
“The first round of the fund comes in a promising dairy season, with favourable operating conditions.
“This makes it a particularly good time to invest because it will help set these dairies up to prosper through the seasonal challenges that have always been a part of Australian farming.”
Qld farmer grant for automatic grain-batching system
Queensland farmer Peter Garratt has received $100,000 from the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund to introduce an automatic grain batching system.
This will support a balanced diet for his herd by ensuring an accurate mix of the right grains, which can be tailored as needed.
He will also use his grant to reduce feed losses with improved fodder storage, build an effluent recycling system and boost cow health and comfort with additions to the herd’s summertime shelter.
Mr Garratt’s dairy produces 2.6 million litres of milk annually on the Darling Downs property that has belonged to his family for 95 years.
He and his young family live on the farm, which he runs in partnership with his parents.
“We are really excited to have the opportunity to make some of our dreams a reality,” Mr Garratt said.
“The installation of automated grain batching will ensure our cows receive a correctly balanced diet and save us valuable time.
“We will also be providing motion detecting comfort brushes and a ventilation system to keep our herd healthy and happy all year round.”
Victorian farmer grant towards new milking shed
South Gippsland farmer Jason Riley has received $80,000 from the fund to build a new milking shed.
The shed will integrate automation, in-line milk sensors and solar power, replacing his existing 50-year old milking shed.
As a first generation dairy farmer, at the age of 18, Mr Riley bought his first herd of cows from two dairy farmers who mentored him during his early interest in dairy.
Now in his early 20s he has grown his business to milk up to 230 cows and bought his first piece of land in Dumbalk, Vic, earlier this year.
“Thanks to the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund we have been able to start work on our new milking shed, which will improve cow comfort and overall herd health,” Mr Riley said.
The Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund was designed in consultation with peak industry groups Australian Dairy Farmers, Dairy Australia, National Farmers’ Federation, Premium Milk Ltd and the NSW Farmers’ Association Dairy Committee.
Australian Dairy Farmers president Terry Richardson said increasing the profitability and sustainability of dairy farmers was at the heart of the organisation’s vision for Australian dairy, and ADF was pleased to see Woolworths making a contribution to where it all starts – on the farm.
“These grants will make a significant difference to farmers and support the work underway across the industry to make investments that deliver returns for dairy farms well into the future and create greater stability in challenging seasons,” he said.
The Dairy Innovation Fund will invest a total of $5 million in about 60 businesses across the next three years, with yearly grant application rounds open to all dairy farmers in the Woolworths supply chain, including those supplying vendor brands.
The second round of the Dairy Innovation Fund will open later this year.
For more information, visit www.woolworths.com.au/dairyinnovationfund.