Thursday, June 20, 2024

Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund awards $1.5m to farmers

The Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to 16 dairy farmers, with applications for a fresh round of grants now open.

Grants from the 2022 round of the Dairy innovation Fund are already supporting projects on 16 farms around Australia, including investment in irrigation pipelines, thermal storage, sustainability improvements, herd monitoring technology and dairy automation.

The 2023 round of the multi-million-dollar Fund is seeking applications from farmers for grants of up to $100,000 to support on-farm projects that deliver innovation, efficiency and seasonal resilience.

Australian dairy farmers in the Woolworths supply chain, including those supplying vendor brands, can apply to the fund before Sunday, 30 April 2023.

Woolworths Dairy Merchandise Manager Will Herron says, “We’re proud to be partnering with farmers to help them make innovative and impactful changes as they lay the groundwork to continue delivering quality dairy for generations to come.

“As the industry knows, now is the time to be investing in on-farm improvements to bolster seasonal resilience and improve labour and energy efficiency. The Fund is on the lookout for projects that will support the long-term prosperity of Australian dairy farms.

“Whether it’s equipment purchases or investments in long-term structural changes that help create resilient, future-focussed farms – we look forward to seeing a new round of enterprising applications this year,” Mr Herron said.

James McRae from Raelands farm in Barrington, NSW received a $70,000 grant from the Dairy Innovation Fund in November last year to boost the health and wellbeing of his herd using digital collars, and support land conservation through native tree planting and water quality management.

A family-owned farm since the 1860’s, Raeland Dairy has a herd of around 200 cows, including Holstein-Friesians, Scandinavian Reds and crossbreeds. As a fifth-generation farmer, Mr McRae has been working with his father Chris to sustain a healthy and diverse farm environment, supplying to Norco Dairy Cooperative.

“Since implementing the cow collars through funding from the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund, we have already seen a significant improvement in our herd breeding program. The collars provide accurate heat detection, allowing us to more efficiently manage our breeding cycle and improve overall reproductive success,” he said.

“The collars also allow us to monitor herd health and detect potential health issues earlier than would otherwise be possible.The ease of use and having the data right there on a phone app has made herd health and reproduction much more time and labour efficient.”

Mr McRae and his family have been working to conserve and revitalise their land, planting more than 3000 native trees in the past 25 years.

“The Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund has also allowed us to continue with our goal of regenerating all the creeks and and gulleys on our farm into natural biodiversity corridors. The funds to fence livestock out of these sensitive areas and for the planting of hundreds of native trees, grasses and shrubs will have a significant impact on the biodiversity and water quality of our farm and surrounding catchment,” Mr McRae said.

Through the Dairy Innovation Fund, Raelands Dairy has also been able to install trafficable solids traps to improve the quality of manure management on the farm.

“We now have a greater ability to separate the solids from liquids and can easily apply both types of dairy effluent back to our pastures in a timely manner – reducing our use of purchased fertilisers, improving soil health and significantly reducing the risk of waterway contamination,” he said.

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.

Other recipients of the Fund such as Nick Brokenshire from Hindmarsh Tiers in South Australia are set to install a complete flood wash flush reuse system, recycling water to wash down all holding yards and feed alleyways at the feedpad. Further to this, Nick Mignanelli from Verde Valley in South Australia has big plans to improve the efficiency of herd health and milk production on his family farm, with funds set to support the purchase and installation of Automated Cup Removers.

For more information, visit woolworths.com.au/dairyinnovationfund. Submissions for the current grant round will close on 30 April 2023.

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