Profiles

James Hills

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James Hills

Centre Leader (Livestock production Centre)

Room 1.40 , Building A

+61 3 6430 4937 (phone)

+61 3 6430 4959 (fax)

James.Hills@utas.edu.au

Dr James Hills is the Centre Leader (Dairy, Grains and Grazing) at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. James has a particular interest in variability in farming systems, and the use of technology for measuring and managing this variability to improve the efficiency and sustainability of production.

Biography

James Hills completed a Rural Science Degree followed by a PhD at the University of New England, Armidale, in the late 1990's. Following this, James worked in the horticultural industry in Tasmania on various research and development projects, and during that time he also developed and managed a successful seed potato business. James joined the Dairy Centre at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture in 2012.

Career summary

Qualifications

DegreeThesis TitleUniversityCountryAwarded
PhDDiet selection and conditioned responses in ruminants to feeds containing different concentrations of sulphurUniversity of New EnglandAustralia09/10/1999


BRurSci(Hons)

 University of New EnglandAustralia07/04/1995

Memberships

Professional practice

  • Australian Association of Ruminant Nutritionists (AARN)
  • American Dairy Science Association (ADSA)
  • Irrigation Australia Limited (IAL)

Administrative expertise

  • Research and Business Management

Teaching

Cattle, Dairy, Animal Production, Dairy Science, Ruminant Nutrition, Animal Nutrition, Dairy Cattle Nutrition, Forage, Pasture Management, Irrigation

Teaching responsibility

James is a guest lecturer in Dairy Cattle nutrition and precision technologies, as part of the Agricultural Science Degree at the University of Tasmania.

Research Invitations

  • Invited as a keynote speaker to the Australasian Dairy Science Symposium to present a review paper on individualised feeding of supplements to pasture-based dairy cows (New Zealand, October 2014)
  • Invited to give a keynote presentation at the International Precision Dairy Conference to be held in the Netherlands in June 2016 on the topic of precision feeding and grass management

View more on Dr James Hills in WARP

Research Themes

James' research aligns to the University's research theme of Resources and Sustainability. James currently leads a number of projects assessing precision agriculture technologies and their relevance to pasture-based dairy systems, including the use of sensor based technologies to target nutrient inputs that avoid nutrient dense zones in pastures. James also has a keen interest in the nutrition of pasture based dairy cows and during the past year has led a national Dairy Australia commissioned review on an evaluation of the likely effects of individualised feeding of grain-based supplements to pasture-based dairy cows. The results of this study have been published recently as an invited review in the Journal of Dairy Science.

James is also involved in a collaborative project with the CSIRO looking at the impact of feeding grain-based supplements in the Dairy on grazing behaviour, dry matter intake and milk production. He is also leading a project examining the use of automated variable rate irrigation technology for improving the efficiency of irrigation application to pastures. This project also involves collection of data for benchmarking and monitoring purposes and involves collaboration with research across Australia from the cotton, dairy, sugar and rice industries.

Collaboration

James is currently involved in a number of major national research projects examining the use of precision technologies in pasture based dairying.  Combined, these collaborative projects involve partnerships with the CSIRO, the University of Southern Queensland's National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, Dairy Australia and Dairy NZ.

Awards

  • Beef CRC scholarship (PhD)
  • Keith and Dorothy Mckay travelling scholarship to collaborate with Scientists at the Scottish Agricultural College on conditioned feeding response in ruminants

Current projects

  • Differential bail feeding literature review (Dairy Australia funded project)
  • Pasture optimization and animal health monitoring for the dairy and beef industries (Sense T project)
  • Lowering nitrous oxide emissions in intensively grazing pasture systems (DAFF funded Action on the Ground project)
  • More milk from forages (Dairy Australia funded project)
  • Using cashew nut shell liquid as a feed additive to a grain based supplement for increase milk production in pasture-based dairy cows (Industry contract)
  • Smarter irrigation for profit (Rural R&D for Profit funded project)

Fields of Research

  • Animal management (300302)
  • Agriculture, land and farm management (300299)
  • Animal nutrition (300303)

Research Objectives

  • Dairy cattle (100402)
  • Pasture, browse and fodder crops (100599)
  • Environmentally sustainable animal production (100199)

Publications

The primary journals where James' reviewing and editing contributions are made, include:

  • Journal of Dairy Science
  • Animal Production Science
  • Crop and Forage Science

Total publications

36

Highlighted publications

(1 outputs)
YearTypeCitationAltmetrics
2015Journal ArticleHills JL, Wales WJ, Dunshea FR, Garcia SC, Roche JR, 'Invited review: an evaluation of the likely effects of individualized feeding of concentrate supplements to pasture-based dairy cows', Journal of Dairy Science, 98, (3) pp. 1363-1401. ISSN 0022-0302 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3168/jds.2014-8475 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 78Web of Science - 71

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Journal Article

(11 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2021Langworthy AD, Verdon V, Freeman MJ, Corkrey R, Hills JL, et al., 'Virtual fencing technology to intensively graze lactating dairy cattle I: Technology efficacy and pasture utilization', Journal of Dairy Science pp. 1-13. ISSN 0022-0302 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3168/jds.2020-19796 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 17

Co-authors: Langworthy AD; Verdon V; Freeman MJ; Corkrey R; Rawnsley RP

Tweet

2016Pembleton KG, Hills JL, Freeman MJ, McLaren DK, French M, et al., 'More milk from forage: Milk production, blood metabolites, and forage intake of dairy cows grazing pasture mixtures and spatially adjacent monocultures', Journal of Dairy Science, 99, (5) pp. 3512-3528. ISSN 0022-0302 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3168/jds.2015-10542 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 28Web of Science - 26

Co-authors: Pembleton KG; Freeman MJ; McLaren DK; French M; Rawnsley RP

Tweet

2016Shahriar MS, Smith D, Rahman A, Freeman M, Hills J, et al., 'Detecting heat events in dairy cows using accelerometers and unsupervised learning', Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 128 pp. 20-26. ISSN 0168-1699 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.compag.2016.08.009 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 52Web of Science - 35

Co-authors: Freeman M; Rawnsley R

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2016Smith D, Rahman A, Bishop-Hurley GJ, Hills J, Shahriar S, et al., 'Behavior classification of cows fitted with motion collars: Decomposing multi-class classification into a set of binary problems', Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 131 pp. 40-50. ISSN 0168-1699 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.compag.2016.10.006 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 61

Co-authors: Rawnsley R

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2015Dutta R, Smith D, Rawnsley R, Bishop-Hurley G, Hills J, et al., 'Dynamic cattle behavioural classification using supervised ensemble classifiers', Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 111 pp. 18-28. ISSN 0168-1699 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.compag.2014.12.002 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 103Web of Science - 81

Co-authors: Rawnsley R

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2015Hills JL, Garcia SC, Dela Rue B, Clark CEF, 'Limitations and potential for individualised feeding of concentrate supplements to grazing dairy cows', Animal Production Science, 55, (7) pp. 922-930. ISSN 1836-0939 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1071/AN14855 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 4Web of Science - 3

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2015Hills JL, Wales WJ, Dunshea FR, Garcia SC, Roche JR, 'Invited review: an evaluation of the likely effects of individualized feeding of concentrate supplements to pasture-based dairy cows', Journal of Dairy Science, 98, (3) pp. 1363-1401. ISSN 0022-0302 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3168/jds.2014-8475 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 78Web of Science - 71

Tweet

2015Smith D, Dutta R, Hellicar A, Bishop-Hurley G, Rawnsley R, et al., 'Bag of Class Posteriors, a new multivariate time series classifier applied to animal behaviour identification', Expert Systems With Applications, 42, (7) pp. 3774-3784. ISSN 0957-4174 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.eswa.2014.11.033 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 23Web of Science - 16

Co-authors: Rawnsley R

Tweet

2006Chilvers MI, Hay FS, Hills J, Dennis JJC, Wilson CR, 'Influence of benzimidazole fungicides on incidence of Botrytis allii infection of onion leaves and subsequent incidence onion neck rot in storage in Tasmania, Australia', Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 46, (12) pp. 1661-1664. ISSN 0816-1089 (2006) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1071/EA05028 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6Web of Science - 5

Co-authors: Chilvers MI; Hay FS; Wilson CR

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2000Arsenos G, Hills J, Kyriazakis I, 'Conditioned feeding responses of sheep towards flavoured foods associated with casein administration: the role of long delay learning', Animal Science, 70, (1) pp. 157-169. ISSN 1357-7298 (2000) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1017/S1357729800051699 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 12Web of Science - 11

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1999Hills J, Kyriazakis I, Nolan JV, Hinch GN, Lynch JJ, 'Conditioned feeding responses in sheep to flavoured foods associated with sulphur doses', Animal Science, 69, (2) pp. 313-325. ISSN 1357-7298 (1999) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1017/S1357729800050888 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 10Web of Science - 8

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Conference Publication

(20 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2018Asher M, Raedts P, Harrison MT, Hills J, Rawnsley RP, 'Estimating pasture biomass with Planet Labs CubeSats', Proceedings of the 2018 Australasian Dairy Science Symposium, 21-23 November 2018, Palmerston North, New Zealand, pp. 196-198. (2018) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Raedts P; Harrison MT; Rawnsley RP

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2017Hills J, 'Water use efficiency and irrigation management of Tasmanian forage options', Program for Red Meat Updates Tasmania, 28 July, Launceston, Tasmania, pp. 15-16. (2017) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2016Bishop-Hurley GJ, Hills J, Rawnsley R, Freeman M, Christie K, et al., 'Characterising dairy cattle behaviours by observation, accelerometers and video', Proceedings of the 6th Annual Australian and New Zealand Spatially Enabled Livestock Management (SELM) Symposium, 31 March - 1 April 2016, University of Sydney, pp. 14-14. ISBN 978-1-74210-381-5 (2016) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley R; Freeman M; Christie K

2016Hills J, 'Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Increasing farm profit through efficient use of irrigation input to dairy pastures', Proceedings of the 7th Australasian Dairy Science Symposium, 16-18 November 2016, Sydney, Australia, pp. 86-86. (2016) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2016Hills J, Bishop-Hurley G, Rawnsley R, Freeman M, Henry D, 'Grazing behaviour of dairy cows fed different levels of concentrates', Proceedings of Precision Dairy Farming 2016, 21-23 June 2016, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, pp. 1. ISBN 978-90-8686-283-2 (2016) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley R; Freeman M

2016Hills J, Bishop-Hurley GJ, Rawnsley R, Freeman M, Henry D, et al., 'Changes in grazing behaviour associated with concentrate feeding in dairy cows', Proceedings of the 6th Annual Australian and New Zealand Spatially Enabled Livestock Management (SELM) Symposium, 31 March - 1 April 2016, University of Sydney, pp. 13-13. ISBN 978-1-74210-381-5 (2016) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley R; Freeman M

2016Hills J, McLaren D, Christie K, Rawnsley R, Taylor S, 'Use of optical sensor to reduce nitrogen inputs to intensively grazed pastures', Proceedings of Precision Dairy Farming 2016, 21-23 June 2016, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, pp. 1. ISBN 978-90-8686-283-2 (2016) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: McLaren D; Christie K; Rawnsley R

2016Hills JL, Rawnsley RP, Harrison MT, BIshop-Hurley GJ, Henry DA, et al., 'Precision feeding and grazing management for temperate pasture-based dairy systems', Precision Dairy Farming 2016, 21-23 June 2016, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, pp. 25-31. ISBN 978-90-8686-283-2 (2016) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley RP; Harrison MT; Raedts P; Freeman M

2016Hills JL, Rawnsley RP, Harrison MT, Bishop-Hurley GJ, Henry DA, et al., 'Precision feeding and grazing management for temperate pasture-based dairy systems', Precision Dairy Conference, 21-23 June, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands (2016) [Keynote Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley RP; Harrison MT; Raedts P; Freeman M

2016Rahman A, Smith D, Hills J, Bishop-Hurley G, Henry D, et al., 'A comparison of autoencoder and statistical features for cattle behaviour classification', Proceedings of the 2016 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN), 24-29 July 2016, Vancouver, Canada, pp. 1-7. (2016) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley R

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2015Dunshea FR, Wales WJ, Lean IJ, Garcia SC, Roche JR, et al., 'Concentrate feeding strategies for individual grazing cows', 47th University of Nottingham Feed Conference, 23-24 June 2015, Loughborough, UK, pp. 6-7. (2015) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2015Shahriar MS, Smith D, Rahman A, Henry D, Bishop-Hurley G, et al., 'Heat event detection in dairy cows with collar sensors: An unsupervised machine learning approach', Proceedings of 2015 IEEE SENSORS, 1-4 November 2015, Busan, South Korea, pp. 1-4. ISBN 978-1-4799-8202-8 (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]

DOI: 10.1109/ICSENS.2015.7370528 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6

Co-authors: Rawnsley R; Freeman M

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2014Bishop-Hurley G, Henry D, Smith D, Dutta R, Hills J, et al., 'An investigation of cow feeding behavior using motion sensors', Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE International Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference, 12-15 May 2014, Montevideo, Uruguay, pp. 1285-1290. ISBN 978-1-4673-6385-3 (2014) [Refereed Conference Paper]

DOI: 10.1109/I2MTC.2014.6860952 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13

Co-authors: Rawnsley R

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2014Dutta R, Smith D, Rawnsley R, Bishop-Hurley G, Hills J, 'Cattle behaviour classification using 3-axis collar sensor and multi-classifier pattern recognition', Proceedings of IEEE Sensors, 2-5 November 2014, Valencia, Spain, pp. 1272-1275. ISSN 1930-0395 (2014) [Refereed Conference Paper]

DOI: 10.1109/ICSENS.2014.6985242 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 8

Co-authors: Rawnsley R

Tweet

2014Hills J, 'Using precision ag technology for managing water and nutrient inputs in pasture-based systems', Red Meat Updates Tasmania 2014, 12 June 2014, Launceston, Australia (2014) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2014Hills JL, Garcia SC, Dela Rue B, Clark CEF, 'Individualised feeding of concentrate supplements to pasture-based dairy cows', Proceedings of the 6th Australasian Dairy Science Symposium, 19-21 November 2014, Hamilton, New Zealand, pp. 316-325. (2014) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2014Hills JL, McLaren D, Christie KM, Rawnsley RP, Taylor S, 'Use of optical sensor technology to reduce nitrogen fertiliser inputs on dairy farms', Proceedings of the 6th Australasian Dairy Science Symposium, 19-21 November 2014, Hamilton, New Zealand, pp. 161-163. (2014) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: McLaren D; Christie KM; Rawnsley RP

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2014Rawnsley RP, Hills JL, Freeman MJ, Henry DA, Bishop-Hurley GJ, 'Grazing behaviour of dairy cows fed differing levels of concentrates', Proceedings of the 17th Symposium on Precision Agriculture Research and Application in Australasia, 2-3 September 2014, Adelaide, Australia, pp. 17-21. (2014) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley RP; Freeman MJ

2013French ME, Pembleton KG, Freeman MJ, Hills JL, 'Mid-lactation response of cows grazing pasture mixtures containing perennial plantain, white clover, and ryegrass', Dairy Research Foundation: Current Topics in Dairy Production, 4-5 July, 2013, Kiama, Australia, pp. 128-133. (2013) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: French ME; Pembleton KG; Freeman MJ

2013Rawnsley RP, Hills JL, Freeman MJ, Henry DA, Bishop-Hurley GJ, et al., 'Monitoring grazing behaviour of dairy cows in pasture based systems', Dairy Research Foundation: Current Topics in Dairy Production, 4-5 July 2013, Kiama, Australia, pp. 18-24. (2013) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley RP; Freeman MJ

Contract Report, Consultant's Report

(4 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2017Boersma M, Murphy LM, Hills JL, 'Short Retention Time Effluent Management', Department of Agriculture, Canberra, Australia (2017) [Contract Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Boersma M; Murphy LM

2015Rawnsley RP, Henry DA, Harrison MT, Freeman MJ, Hills JL, 'Sense-T: Pasture optimization and decision support tools for the dairy and beef industries. Final Report', CSIRO/University of Tasmania, Tasmania (2015) [Contract Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Rawnsley RP; Harrison MT; Freeman MJ

2014Eckard R, Meyer R, Cullen BR, Johnson IR, Eckard RJ, et al., 'Whole farm systems analysis of greenhouse gas abatement options for the southern Australian grazing industries: progress report 5', Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia (2014) [Contract Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Harrison MT; Christie KM; Rawnsley RP; McLaren D

2013Freeman MJ, Rawnsley RP, Harrison MT, Hills JL, Henry DA, et al., 'Pasture optimization and decision support tools for the dairy and beef industries: report 1 May to 31 July 2013' (2013) [Contract Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Freeman MJ; Rawnsley RP; Harrison MT

Thesis

(1 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
1999Hills JL, 'Diet selection and conditioned responses in ruminants to feeds containing different concentrations of sulphur' (1999) [PhD]

[eCite] [Details]

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants

16

Total funding

$18,075,051

Projects

Towards an Active and Passive L- and P-band soil moisture satellite mission (2021 - 2023)$600,000
Description
This project tests alternate configurations for remote sensing of soil moisture using a new state-of-the-art Active/Passive (ie radar/radiometer) P-/L-band (ie microwave) satellite concept through a series of airborne field experiments. Timely soil moisture information is critical to improved water management for food production in the face of climate variability. The challenge is to do this accurately over large areas with an appropriate spatiotemporal detail, and for a soil depth that closely approximates the layer which impacts crop/pasture growth and influences management decisions. The longer P-band allows deeper penetration into the soil while the active/passive combination uses the respective resolution and accuracy characteristics.
Funding
Australian Research Council ($600,000)
Scheme
Grant-Discovery Projects
Administered By
Australian Research Council
Research Team
Walker J; Ng B; Hills JL
Period
2021 - 2023
Grant Reference
DP210100430
Dairy High 2 (2020 - 2026)$3,277,567
Description
A multifaceted research approach is required to address the pressing challenges of high synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use, non-replacement dairy calves, and skill shortages of the Tasmanian dairy community. We propose to resolve these challenges by building on our prior projects and expertise, through the following three fields of work: Feedbase Research Achieve 20 tonnes of dry matter utilisation from irrigated pasture and 2000 kg milk solids per hectare with only 200 kg of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. Welfare Research and Development Reduce the number of non-replacement dairy calves slaughtered at an early age by 50% by increasing carcass value and reducing rearing and finishing costs. Extension Enhancing and developing skills in the Tasmanian dairy community to support sustainable growth of pasture-based farming systems.
Funding
Dairy Australia Limited ($3,277,567)
Scheme
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Hills JL; Langworthy A; Raedts PJM; Gee CM; McLaren D; Verdon MJ; Snare TA; Millhouse BJ
Period
2020 - 2026
Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 2 (2020 - 2022)$894,290
Description
Achieving optimal performance from pressurised irrigation systems used throughout the Australian dairy industry is challenging, with enormous variability in the climatic, edaphic and farming systems conditions under which they operate. However, key decisions such as start-up time, scheduling interval, irrigation depth and system performance (uniformity and energy efficiency) are often determined by simple rules-of-thumb or gut feel estimates. Detailed benchmarking and analysis of pressurised irrigation systems in Tasmanian between 2015 and 2018 as part of the Rural R&D for profit round 1 project Smarter Irrigation for profit, have shown that there is significant opportunity to enhance the performance of these irrigation systems with respect to energy use efficiency, water use efficiency and overall whole farm productivity and profitability.This project aims to establish a focus farm in three regions across Tasmanian with surrounding satellites farms. In this spoke and hub model, the focus farm will collect detailed data on irrigation delivery system performance, water and energy usage, and pasture productivity. A reference group associated with the focus farm will include other farmers and service providers. Benchmarking of system performance will occur on both the focus and satellite farms. This process aims to identify the farm scale costs/benefits of addressing the yield gap due to poor irrigation system performance and irrigation scheduling practices and provide a basis for professional development training for farmers and service providers.
Funding
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources ($894,290)
Scheme
Research and Development for Profit
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Hills JL; McLaren D; Flight S; Rawnsley RP; Jones S; Hardie MA; Langworthy A
Period
2020 - 2022
Dairy HIGH - High Integrity Grass-fed Herds (2019 - 2021)$1,079,830
Description
This project focuses on sustainable and profitable growth in Tasmanias pasture based dairy industry. In this 16-month project proposal we will research and combine the accessible and emerging technologies and practices that are driving productivity and efficiency improvements, with the industrys desire to address consumer expectations with respect to environmental management (our environment), animal welfare (our cows) and our people.This will be achieved by focusing on 5 areas of work that relate to our environment, our cows and our people1.Nitrogen efficiency in highly productive systems (environment).2.Novel grazing practices in large grass-fed dairy systems (cows).3.Addressing and preparing for changing social values with respect to animal welfare (cows).4.Regional people and skills shortages (People).5.Building capacity in the Tasmanian dairy industry (People).The proposed integrated RD&E program is designed with 16 months of activities + a five year time horizon, at the request of the funder, Dairy Australia.
Funding
Dairy Australia Limited ($1,079,830)
Scheme
Grant-Research and Development
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Rawnsley RP; Hills JL; Raedts PJM; Irvine LD; Turner LR; Langworthy A; Jones S; Flight S; Gee CM; Verdon MJ; Snare RD
Period
2019 - 2021
Mapping pasture biomass from satellite imagery with machine learning (2018)$10,000
Description
Effective dairy farm management requires regular estimates of paddock-level biomass. Livestock movements and hay cutting also necessitate timely, decisive management to maintain pasture biomass at levels optimal for grass quality and growth rates, since home-grown pasture is one of the cheapest forms of feed. Manual measurements of pasture biomass are time consuming and subject to sampling error, and cannot characterise entire paddocks. The recent launch of a new satellite constellation has provided a unique big-data opportunity for remote modelling of whole-farm pasture biomass at a previously unattainable spatial resolution of 3 x 3 metres, on a daily temporal scale. High resolution of both spatial and temporal data is essential to enable accurate characterisation of changes in pasture biomass on a timely basis in order to maximise pasture utilisation per unit farm area. Heretofore, such spatial and temporal resolution has not been achievable due to constraints in satellite spectroscopy. Further, previous attempts to regress NDVI with actual pasture biomass have not demonstrated reliable predictive capability beyond farms on which they have been trained, and consequently perform poorly on paddocks containing irregular topography, water bodies and trees. Two major reasons for poor predictive performance have been the quality of satellite data and the structural inadequacies of regression models used to capture fine-scale spatial variability of vegetative growth.
Funding
University of Tasmania ($10,000)
Scheme
Grant - DKD Research Theme
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Harrison MT; Asher M; Raedts PJM; Hills JL; Rawnsley RP
Year
2018
Beyond Water Smart: Advancing Dairy Irrigation System Performance (2018 - 2019)$141,376
Description
Achieving optimal performance from pressurised irrigation systems used throughout the Australian dairy industry is challenging, with enormous variability in the climatic, edaphic and farming systems conditions under which they operate. However, key decisions such as start-up time, scheduling interval, irrigation depth and system performance (uniformity and energy efficiency) are often determined by simple rules-of-thumb or gut feel estimates. Detailed benchmarking and analysis of pressurised irrigation systems in Tasmanian between 2015 and 2018 as part of the Rural R&D for profit round 1 project Smarter Irrigation for profit, have shown that there is significant opportunity to enhance the performance of these irrigation systems with respect to energy use efficiency, water use efficiency and overall whole farm productivity and profitability. This project aims to establish a hub (focus farm) and spoke (satellite farms, service providers, data transfer) model to be tested at one location in Tasmanian during the 2018/19 irrigation season. In this model the focus farm will be set up to collect detailed data on water and energy use as well as pasture production. A reference group associated with this focus farm will be set up and include other farmers and service providers and benchmarking of system performance will occur on both the focus and satellite farms. This process aims to identify the farm scale costs/benefits of addressing the yield gap due to poor irrigation system performance and irrigation scheduling practices and provide a basis for professional development training for farmers and service providers.
Funding
Dairy Australia Limited ($141,376)
Scheme
Grant-Research and Development
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Hills JL; McLaren D; Flight S; Rawnsley RP
Period
2018 - 2019
Enhancing the profitability and productivity of livestock farming through virtual herding technology (2017 - 2020)$3,780,000
Description
This project aims through the use of virtual fencing/herding technology to improve the productivity and profitability of livestock enterprises through optimising the management of individual grazing animals and better matching their requirements with feed availability.
Funding
Department of Agriculture ($2,600,000)
Collaborators
Australian Pork Limited ($20,000); Australian Wool Innovation Limited ($170,000); Dairy Australia Limited ($400,000); Meat and Livestock Australia ($200,000); University of Melbourne ($120,000); University of New England ($90,000); University of Sydney ($180,000)
Scheme
Grant-Rural R&D for Profit program
Administered By
Dairy Australia Limited
Research Team
Tomkins N; Swan P; D'Souza D; Henry D; Rawnsley RP; Hills JL; Freeman MJ; Verdon MJ; Langworthy A
Period
2017 - 2020
Sense-T Stage 2: Pasture Productivity and on-animal sensing (2015 - 2016)$531,862
Description
Delivery of real-time information solutions for intensively managed pasture based industries. This project brings together the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and CSIRO to extend research conducted during Sense-T's Stage 1 Beef and Dairy project. Researchers will further enhance their pasture prediction model by using sensors and data to allow farmers to predict and prepare for different scenarios, and will further develop on-animal sensors to better monitor health, grazing and productivity in the dairy and livestock industries.
Funding
Dairy Australia Limited ($20,000); University of Tasmania ($511,862)
Scheme
Grant - Institutional
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Rawnsley RP; Hills JL; Harrison MT; Freeman MJ; Turner LR
Period
2015 - 2016
Smarter Irrigation for profit (2015 - 2018)$4,341,502
Description
This project will provide a detailed assessment of the irrigation delivery system, energy and water use efficiency, changes in irrigation scheduling, system design, irrigation uniformity on participatory farms and as economic analysis and productivity assessment of performance against benchmarks. This project will also evaluate a proof of concept adaptive control, system for dairy production that controls site-specific irrigation application. This control system has the potential to significantly improve dairy production through delivery of irrigation requirements.
Funding
Department of Agriculture ($4,341,502)
Scheme
Grant-Rural R&D for Profit program
Administered By
Cotton Research and Development Corporation
Research Team
Hills JL; Freeman MJ; Rawnsley RP; Nelson R; Hardie MA
Period
2015 - 2018
Dairy on PAR (2015 - 2019)$1,986,011
Description
: The Tasmanian Dairy on PAR project will contribute towards achieving the Dairy Moving Forward (DMF) vision of profitable, growing, sustainable, rewarding dairy farms. The project utilises the RD&E expertise of the TIA Dairy Centre in addressing the three high level objectives for improved feedbase performance in pasture based dairy systems: increasing pasture consumption by 0.05 to 0.1t DM/ha per 100mm of water received (equivalent to 0.75 to 1.5t DM/ha increase); understanding the plant/animal/feeding interface to enhance individualised feeding decisions that increases the marginal milk response of concentrate feeding by 20%; and growing industry skills, knowledge and confidence in business analysis and risk to increase operating profit (EBIT) by $0.1 kg MS. This project also recognises that a technological shift associated with milk harvesting in the form of automatic milking system (AMS) creates a new dynamic that must be considered and incorporated into any new activities
Funding
Dairy Australia Limited ($1,956,011)
Scheme
Grant-Research and Development
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Rawnsley RP; Pembleton KG; Irvine LD; Hills JL; Turner LR; Freeman MJ; Kilpatrick SI
Period
2015 - 2019
Agronico Consultancy Project: Growing and storing seed potatoes (2014)$175
Description
This project is an ongoing consultancy for the provision of technical support to Agronico Pty Ltd. This project involves the provision of occasional advice and support in the following areas: development of research protocols for solving issues associated with the production and storage of seed potatoes; assisting with assessment of research trial results; technical advice on disease and production issues; statistical assessment of trial results; provision of Technical and trial reports.
Funding
Agronico ($175)
Scheme
Consultancy
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Hills JL
Year
2014
Using Cashew Nut Shell Liquid as a feed additive to a grain based supplement for increase milk production in pasture-based dairy cows (2014 - 2015)$37,473
Description
Cashew Nut Shell Liquid has been shown in in-vitro and in vivo studies to have selective action on rumen microbes leading to decreased methane and increased propionate production without affecting digestibility and total volatile fatty acid production and could be used as an alternative to ionophore antibiotics for improving the efficiency of milk production in dairy cows. The objective of this study is to determine the effect of a Cashew Nut Shell Liquid feed additive on milk production and blood metabolites in dairy cows.
Funding
Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd ($37,473)
Scheme
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Hills JL; Freeman MJ
Period
2014 - 2015
Sense-T: Agriculture - Pasture optimisation and decision support tools for the dairy and beef industries (2013)$369,000
Description
The project will: develop web-based tools for farmers providing prediction of pasture growth; test new technologies for tracking cattle behaviour with the aim of improving the early detection of subclinical diseases, reproductive performance and feed allocation; develop decision support tools that link biophysical data with input/output price scenarios and assist farmers to make better informed management decisions; investigate the possibility of manipulating feed and herd management for specialised products (e.g Designer Milk).
Funding
Sense-T within University of Tasmania ($369,000)
Scheme
Grant - Institutional
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Rawnsley RP; Hills JL; Freeman MJ; Harrison MT; Nelson R
Year
2013
A review of differential feeding of concentrate supplements to pasture based Dairy cows (2013)$61,810
Description
The project will review the scientific literature relating to differential bail feeding in dairy herds, with a particular focus on supplementary feeding in pasture based dairy systems. The review will focus on differential feeding as it relates to pasture based dairying systems. Sections 1-3 will look at the historical literature across a variety of factors. Section 4 and 5 will critically assess the assumptions derived from sections 1-3 and will test the value proposition of the adoption of differential bail feeding and how this is influenced by farming systems. Further it will identify new areas of research that require further testing and experimental work.
Funding
Dairy Australia Limited ($61,810)
Scheme
Grant-Research and Development
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Hills JL; Roche JR
Year
2013
More Milk From Forage: Developing forage systems to meet the challenge for cool temperate pasture based dairy systems (2012 - 2015)$759,535
Funding
Dairy Australia Limited ($759,535)
Scheme
Grant-Research and Development
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Pembleton KG; Rawnsley RP; Turner LR; Freeman MJ; Hills JL
Period
2012 - 2015
Lowering nitrous oxide emissions in intensively grazed pastures (2012 - 2015)$204,620
Funding
Department of Agriculture ($204,620)
Scheme
Grant-Carbon Farming Futures -Action on the Ground
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Rawnsley RP; Hills JL
Period
2012 - 2015

Research Supervision

Current

5

Completed

1

Current

DegreeTitleCommenced
PhDShort Retention Time Effluent Management2014
MastersThe Supply Chain Analysis of Dairy Beef (Veal) Cattle: Understanding the pathway to linking cattle producers with markets2019
PhDThe Green Drought - Pasture that survives but does not thrive under Centre Pivot Irrigation. An investigation of irrigation efficiency and effectiveness on Tasmanian dairy farm soils2019
PhDIncreasing utilisation of non-replacement dairy calves in Australia2021
PhDInvestigating low emissions feed technologies for improved profitability of the Tasmanian livestock sector2021

Completed

DegreeTitleCompleted
PhDAlternative Pasture Species to Perennial Ryegrass/White Clover Suitable for Use under Irrigation in the Midlands of Tasmania
Candidate: Brigid M Caiger-Watson
2021