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Published: 10 Dec 2021

A key milestone in the upgrades to the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture’s (TIA) Research Farms was officially launched on Wednesday, December 8.

The University of Tasmania’s Vice Chancellor Professor Rufus Black and Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Guy Barnett, marked the beginning of construction by turning the first piece of soil at the site where a new rotary dairy will be built at TIA’s Dairy Research Facility at Elliott.

The new dairy is one of several projects across both of TIA’s research facilities that will be funded through a $7.7 million investment from a partnership between the University of Tasmania and the State Government.

The investment will transform TIA’s Dairy Research Facility (and TIA’s Forthside Vegetable Research Facility) to maximise their potential in delivering better outcomes for Tasmanian agriculture and enable them to underpin a Region of Excellence in Tasmania’s North-West.

“Elliott and Forthside are our two key research farms, and the sites host significant and active Research Development & Engagement programs in partnership between TIA, national research and development corporations and the private sector,” TIA Interim Director, Professor Michael Rose said.

“The projects realised through this investment will allow TIA to work toward transforming the knowledge of agriculture, food production and post-farmgate practices of Tasmania’s farmers, contributing to a sustainable economic benefit for Tasmania,” Professor Rose said.

Several projects will be scheduled over the next five years to 2025, with some already underway, including the installation of a 32ha fixed sprinkler irrigation system and the construction of new farm lanes to enable “farmlet” trials, that will offer researchers, students, growers, and the community a place to work together to solve real-world problems.

“The upgrades will enable TIA to continue to undertake valuable agricultural research, industry development and education programs to drive productivity and sustainability for the Tasmanian agricultural sector for the next decade,” Professor Rose said.

“The majority of expenditure is scheduled for the first 18 months to prepare the Elliott facility for the $6.5m Dairy Australia Dairy HIGH2 research project – an excellent example of how the TIA Farms Upgrade project is attracting significant, new agriculture research opportunities to Tasmania.”

The dairy construction launch coincided with the Smarter Farming Field Day, which showcased the on-farm tech installed at Elliott (and Forthside) as part of the SMART farms.

The Sustainable, Manageable, Accessible Rural Technology (SMART) farms will offer researchers, students, growers, and the community a place and digital infrastructure to work together to solve real-world problems.

IMAGE: TIA Director Professor Mike Rose, University of Tasmania Vice Chancellor Professor Rufus Black, and Guy Barnett, Minister for Primary Industries & Water, launch the construction of a new rotary dairy at Elliott on Wednesday, December 8.