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Taranaki, supported by DairyNZ, is central to dairy research via Dairy Trust Taranaki (DTT). DTT oversees research on four diverse farms totalling 408ha and milking 1240 cows. Their research, often with Massey University, targets future farming techniques and key issues for Taranaki farmers, notably the environment. Past projects focused on calving seasons and feeding, while current ones explore sustainable farming and Regenerative Agriculture. For in-depth results, visit the Dairy Trust Taranaki website.
Taranaki has long been a centre for dairy science with research and demonstration farms in Stratford, Hawera and Waimate West.
DairyNZ ensures Taranaki has access to targeted and regionally relevant research by funding and supporting research led by Dairy Trust Taranaki (DTT).
DTT was established in late 2016 to oversee dairy industry research in the region and brings together three existing entities – the incorporated society which operated the Stratford Demonstration Farm; the trust which operated the Waimate West Demonstration Farm; and the Taranaki Agricultural Research Trust which leased a commercial farm and the 110-effective hectare Westpac Taranaki Agricultural Research Station (now DTT Gibson).
A further property owned by Fonterra has been leased by DTT (DTT Kavanagh), which is a 208 effective ha dairy farm surrounding the Fonterra Whareroa site in Hawera. In total the four farms operate over 408ha and milk 1240 cows.
The DTT ensures research in the region is coordinated. The different locations, climate and geography of the four farms allow comparative trials to be undertaken.
The Trust is made up of local dairy farmers, rural professionals, and representatives from DairyNZ, Fonterra, and local and regional councils.
Like other regions, Dairy Trust Taranaki (DTT) research programs are partially funded by DairyNZ, and scientists are assigned to assist the Trust in the execution and publication of those trials. In that connection, Chris Glassey fulfils the role of Taranaki regional scientist. Post-Graduate students, in conjunction with Massey University, are also involved with some projects. The projects fit under the theme of future farming for families, and focus on major issues relevant to Taranaki farmers, particularly environmental.
These are important issues and have a wider national application. DairyNZ has supported DTT to help ensure these projects answer local questions, demonstrate important principles, and contribute to the national pool of scientific knowledge.
At Kavanagh farm: The role of autumn calving and winter milk production compared with spring calving, especially in the coastal zone, has been tested and is in its last year of 5, finishing in May 2022.
At Gibson Farm: Profitable feeding options for staying within the Fat Evaluation Index guidelines, by reducing reliance on PKE. For further information see Inside Dairy April/May 2021 and Inside Dairy June/July 2021.
At Stratford demonstration farm: The use of stand-off facilities was examined for high rainfall areas and finished completed in 2019. A paper summarising results has been prepared for NZ Grasslands and will be available from February 2022.
At Gibson Farm: How can dairy farmers reduce their environmental footprint within profitable farm systems in the Taranaki environment? In June 2020, DTT’s Gibson Farm was split into two 54ha farms, one representing 'current farm practice' and the other representing a possible 'future' farm system. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and nitrate leaching, while maintaining profit. The project is funded until May 2023.
At Stratford demonstration farm: In June 2020 the Stratford farm was split in two with the aim of quantifying any change in pasture growth because of using Spikey technology from Pastoral Robotics and the implications of this for the farm system.
All DTT farms: Dairy Calf Opportunities project. This is about creating value from calves' resulting from the 2020 mating programs across all four DTT farms and recording the fate of the calves born. The project is identifying and quantifying risks and opportunities of designed mating programs, and the extent that the expected outcomes can be achieved on New Zealand dairy farms. This includes comparing and analysing the outcome of each calf born, investigating growth rates and the infrastructure required to meet the demands of a designed mating program over the calving period.
At Waimate West: Started mid-2022. A 7-year comparison of Regenerative Agriculture practices focusing on diverse pasture mixes vs ryegrass-based pastures. Funded by MPI with support from DairyNZ.
At Kavanagh: A new project started mid-2022. Details are still to be finalised.
Information on these projects including farm walk notes, farm data, including pasture growth rates, rainfall, soil temperature, milk production, and body condition scores, can be found on the Dairy Trust Taranaki website.
A lower stocking rate, less nitrogen fertiliser and less imported feed – those are the characteristics of a ‘future farm’ being tested down at Dairy Trust Taranaki. Researchers are into their third season comparing a successful current farm system with a farm system that’s designed to meet the regulations and emissions pricing coming at dairy farmers. So, have they been able to make the future farm system work at a similar profitability to the current farm? And what’s happened with greenhouse gas emissions and nitrate leaching reductions? To talk us through this exciting research are Jason Rolfe, general manager at Dairy Trust Taranaki, and DairyNZ farm systems specialist Chris Glassey.