Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals

FutureDairy: a national, multidisciplinary project to assist dairy farmers to manage future challenges – methods and early findings

Sergio C. García A D , William J. Fulkerson A , Ruth Nettle B , Sean Kenny A and Daniel Armstrong C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A MC Franklin Laboratory, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia.

B Faculty of Land and Food Resources, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

C Primary Industries Research Victoria, Ellinbank, Vic. 3820, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 47(9) 1025-1031
Submitted: 10 April 2006  Accepted: 13 December 2006   Published: 6 August 2007


FutureDairy is a national, multidisciplinary project designed to assist Australian dairy farmers to manage future challenges. FutureDairy is exploring technical, economic and social aspects of technology adoption through an innovative approach that combines methodologies of social research (‘People’), extension (‘System’) and technical research (‘Science’). The technologies being investigated revolve around increasing forage production per unit of land through a complementary forage rotation; evaluating the most efficient use of brought-in feed to increase milk production per ha; and, the incorporation of automatic milking and other technological innovations that would either reduce labour input or allow more precise agriculture. The central strategy of FutureDairy is to utilise ‘knowledge partnerships’ to co-develop knowledge around each of the key areas of investigation; thus a key feature of the project is its linkage with commercial ‘partner’ farmers that explore similar questions to those being investigated at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (NSW Department of Primary Industries), where the technical research is being undertaken. This paper focuses on early findings from the forages module. Work thus far has shown that forage yields in excess of 40 t DM/ha.year are achievable. However, the practicalities of implementing this technology on-farm have already identified new and diverse issues that, unless understood, will jeopardise its effective adaptation by farmers.


The four major investors in FutureDairy are the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Dairy Australia, The University of Sydney and DeLaval. The University of Melbourne, the Department of Primary Industries Victoria and The Dairy Research Foundation also provided financial support. The authors would like to thank Dr Carolyn Kabore for comments on the manuscript.


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1 UDDER is a whole farm system model (Larcombe 1989). It incorporates feeding strategies and pasture growth and management variables, proving effective for exploring relationships between management inputs, milk production and gross margins for pasture-based systems.

2 Red Sky is a privately developed farm financial analysis and benchmarking program.

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