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Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

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Published: 17 Oct 2019

Measuring with plate meter

Want to improve practical dairy farming skills? TIA has several exciting groups starting soon that offer a great opportunity to get ahead.

No matter how experienced you are, there is always something new to learn and groups are also great at providing motivation.

Beyond Water Smart Irrigation Discussion Groups

These groups are conducted over the irrigation season. The focus is on improving irrigation management to increase the amount of pasture grown per mm of water applied. There was a pilot group in Meander last year and the participants loved it! The group discussed pump performance, uniformity of water application, reducing pivot wheel ruts, scheduling tools plus a lot more.

Based on the success of this group, the project has been expanded to four other regions. Each discussion group involves an optimised irrigation farm and satellite farms. The optimised irrigation farm has a weather station and soil moisture meters – this is used to generate a weekly irrigation report for group members. As the name suggests, the aim on the optimised irrigation farm in each region is to make sure irrigation water is applied to keep soil moisture at the optimum level to maximise pasture growth. The optimised farm measures pasture growth and all group members are strongly encouraged to measure pasture growth on an irrigated part of their own farm to benchmark with the optimised irrigation farm.

The optimised irrigation farms for the Beyond Water Smart project are:

Region

Farm

Location

Extension officer

Contact

North West

Matthew & Susan Lester

Lileah

Symon Jones

0418 876 089

Central North West

Simon & Sonia Badcock

Thirlstane

Sam Flight

0409 801 341

Central North

Tim & Fiona Salter (Clear Springs)

Meander

Lesley Irvine

0428 880 287

Central North/Midlands

Troy & Toni Ainslie (Woodrising)

Cressy

Sam Flight

0409 801 341

North East

Jarrod King (Forester Lodge)

Waterhouse

Symon Jones

0418 876 089

If you are interested in joining a discussion group focussed around one of these optimised irrigation farms, please contact the appropriate dairy extension officer.

Pasture coaching

Pasture coaching groups are forming in different regions based on expressed interest. Currently there is a north east group, a southern and midlands group and a King Island group. Pasture coaching aims to develop pasture management skills. It involves 10 meetings over a 12-month period. The meetings are all held on-farm and have a practical focus. Topics discussed in the pasture coaching program include: determining leaf stage, setting rotation length, determining cow requirements, correct allocation, measuring pasture, fodder conservation, irrigation start-up and scheduling, and understanding soil nutrients.

If you would like to be involved in one of the groups just formed or express interest from another region, please contact Lesley Irvine on 0428 880 287 or email Lesley.Irvine@utas.edu.au. We are also happy to run pasture coaching programs with farm teams.

Measuring and Monitoring Boot Camp

The Measuring and Monitoring Boot Camp is a new program with a focus on how to use pasture measurement data to make decisions. It is an intensive program – weekly meetings for twelve weeks. While this might sound a bit daunting, most of the meetings are held online and only take an hour. To participate in a Measuring and Monitoring Boot Camp participants must commit to take weekly pasture measurements on their farm and be willing to share their average pasture cover and pasture growth rates with other members. Discussion focuses on decisions that can be made with this data such as feeding cows, nitrogen application, rotation length, fodder conservation and irrigation management. There was a pilot Measuring and Monitoring Boot Camp last year and participants said it really helped them learn more what the data means and how it can be used as well. It also helped increase their focus on their pasture management and provided motivation to improve.

If you are interested in being involved in a Measuring and Monitoring Boot Camp, please contact Lesley Irvine on 0428 880 287 or Lesley.Irvine@utas.edu.au.