Soil health focus cuts farm costs

Soil health focus at Kimber farms to feature on 2019 Dairy Research Foundation Symposium program

Australian Dairyfarmer News
EFFLUENT REUSE: Todd Whyman with one of the irrigators on the farm that is capable of having liquid effluent pumped through it.

EFFLUENT REUSE: Todd Whyman with one of the irrigators on the farm that is capable of having liquid effluent pumped through it.

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A NSW farm undertaking an eight-year plan to reduce the use of synthetic fertilisers will feature during an on-farm tour as part of the 2019 Dairy Research Foundation Symposium to be held at Bega, NSW, July 10-11.

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Kimber Farms is five years into an eight-year plan to reduce the use of synthetic fertiliser on its Bega, NSW, dairy farm.

The family is aiming for a more sustainable approach for their large herd, which is fed a partial mixed ration on an 800-cow feed pad.

The 2019 Dairy Research Foundation Symposium offers a rare opportunity to visit the farm in July to hear more about their approach.

Todd Whyman helps run the family business along with his parents' in-law Ken and Judy Kimber.

He said the business had been focusing on soil health for the past five years.

"We run the farm with a biological focus, we are not organic but we are aiming to cut our nitrogen use right back to help reduce on-farm costs," Mr Whyman said.

The business is focusing on using its own farm resources of effluent and compost (with some corrective additives) to improve soil health.

"We wanted to utilise the nutrient base we have on farm and it is something we have been focusing on as a priority over everything else for the past five years," he said.

The irrigation system a centre pivot, travelling irrigators and solid set irrigation is all capable of having liquid effluent pumped through it.

"With all the effluent and compost we produce, we shouldn't really need any other inputs," he said.

The manure is run through a separator screen and the solid manure is mixed with old bedding from the calf sheds and composted.

Mr Whyman is deputy chair of the local dairy development group and is passionate about spreading his knowledge on reducing synthetic inputs.

He recently set up a 5ha trial plot on the farm to see the effects compost and effluent can have on pasture growth.

The trial was set up on land that hadn't seen fertiliser for at least 30 years and consisted of a control plot, a conventional plot and additional compost and effluent plots.

"Each plot was split in half to enable us to compare results and five weeks in, there is an extreme difference the compost and effluent plots have at least 60 per cent more pasture cover.

"We set this plot up for our own peace of mind but I am keen to share what we do with others and this trial creates a tangible thing for others to look at.

"As we all know dairying is getting harder and harder as costs continue to rise and whatever we can do to keep those costs down is very important.

"Something like this is sustainable and can help all dairy farmers."

Program details

When: Wednesday, July 10, and Thursday, July 11

Where: Bega, NSW

Program details:Click here

Registration: Click here

More information: www.drfsymposium.com.au, 02 8089 1388, tara@ejmevents.com.au

This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer

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