The second round of the $5 million Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund is now open and seeking applications from farmers for grants to support on-farm projects that deliver innovation, efficiency and seasonal resilience.
In June, the inaugural round of the fund awarded more than $2 million in grants to 24 farmers across the country for projects including solar-powered desalination, milk sensor technology, fodder infrastructure, sustainability improvements, enhanced bushfire protection, herd monitoring technology and dairy automation.
Australian dairy farmers in the Woolworths supply chain, including those supplying vendor brands, can apply to the fund before 20 February 2022.
“We’re calling on Australian dairy farmers to come to us with innovative plans that we can help bring to life through the Dairy Innovation Fund,” said Woolworths dairy merchandise manager, Will Herron.
“With improved conditions over recent seasons, future focussed farmers are investing in technology and infrastructure to build resilient businesses that can prosper through seasonal challenges in the years ahead.
“We want to partner with farmers to help create the farms of the future that will continue to deliver quality dairy to Australians for generations to come.
“We’ve already seen the strength of ambition across Australian dairy farms in the first round of the fund and we look forward to backing another crop of innovative and impactful projects in this round.”
Victorian farmer Lisa Dwyer received $100,000 from the inaugural round of the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund earlier this year to rollout herd monitoring collars across more than 400 head of cow on the Purnim farm she runs with her husband, Eddie. The grant will also fund a new automatic draft system on the couple’s property.
The Dwyers supply to Fonterra and employ a team of six ranging in age from their twenties to seventies. Lisa says in the six months since they introduced the new technology she’s already seen the benefits in early detection of illness and heat, which has improved animal welfare and breeding, boosted production and reduced costs.
“In the 18 years I’ve been dairying, this is the single biggest game changer we’ve come across and it’s helping us foster a workplace that’s progressive and rewarding for our team,” said Dwyer.
“We’ve seen first-hand the benefits technology can bring to our business, our people and most importantly, our animals, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund.”
Dwyer is a vocal advocate for technological innovation across Australian dairy farms and encourages farmers to consider the strategic investments they could make with the assistance of a grant from Woolworths.
“While our industry’s past has largely been driven by commodity exports, our future will be driven by a transition to high-value agricultural production – and that can only be achieved through clever and compelling technological innovation,” said Dwyer.
“The Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund allows farmers to invest in substantial projects that will assist their farm businesses to be more profitable and sustainable into the future,” said United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president, Paul Mumford.
“These types of investments will not only improve the running of businesses now, but play a role in retaining and attracting farmers to the industry through greater on-farm efficiency to help balance modern family life.”
The Dairy Innovation Fund was launched in November 2020, to invest a total of $5 million in around 60 businesses over three years.
The 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.