The strategic partnership between the South West Catchments Council (SWCC) and Western Dairy has continued to grow and took a quantum leap in its financial and operational commitment in the 2016/17 financial year.
The Western Dairy Research Development & Extension (RD&E) Hub Project has been a mutually beneficial arrangement, but also an operational structure that has the rest of the dairy RD&E world closely watching, as they seek to learn from the efficiencies and synergies of dairy RD&E partnering with Natural Resource Management (NRM) agencies at a level never previously seen before.
Western Dairy’s major target for the year was to work with industry to identify the two most regionally relevant research activities it could undertake to deliver best value for its levy payers – and act upon them.
At a major stakeholder planning day in January, the need for regionally based pasture variety trials was identified in order to provide local and relevant information about forage values and pasture performance. This project was identified, funded and the trial was ‘in the ground’ within four months of the planning meeting and is set to provide highly valued, independent analysis of pasture performance.
Western Dairy also identified the growing need for disease surveillance in South West dairy areas – a project area too large for Western Dairy to tackle on its own, however ideal for a collaboration between universities and Dairy Australia. Work is now underway in preparing a major collaboration to ensure there is a strong regional understanding of biosecurity threats to the WA industry.
“The more farmers know about the profit drivers of their business, at a feedbase, animal management and financial performance perspective, the greater their confidence level appears to be. Our goal is to provide as much assistance as we can to farmers being in a strong position to make informed decisions about every aspect of their farm’s management.”
Esther Jones, Western Dairy
Western Dairy’s future direction is to bed down the process of delivering a highly applied regional research service.
The team, who are employed or contracted by SWCC and operate out of the SWCC offices, are currently leading the nation in stakeholder tracking satisfaction for the services they provide to WA dairy farmers. This comprehensive measure of performance of dairy RD&E services is confirmation that the Western Dairy team is meeting the needs and expectations of the farmers whose levies co-fund the various projects and initiatives.
There are 150 dairy farmers in Western Australia, producing approximately 4 per cent of the nation’s dairy product; and all the milk drinking needs of WA consumer.