Design your own research

11 December 2015

Funding is now available to sheep and goat producer groups to assist in bringing the benefits of the latest in research outcomes to their everyday operations through MLA Producer Demonstration Sites (PDS) program.

The PDS program is part of MLA’s on-farm adoption program and provides up to $25,000 a year for a maximum of three years to producer groups to validate, adapt and demonstrate the business value of implementing new management practices, technologies or innovations and associated skills into local farming systems.

MLA’s General Manager, Livestock Productivity Dr Jane Weatherley said the PDS program helps groups take advantage of the latest research outcomes funded by their levy investment and translate these into production and profitability improvements on farm.

“The PDS program takes a bottom-up approach which means producers are able to test and adapt new management practices or technologies for their region. The PDS process provides the required support to producer groups to enable implementation of the latest MLA research findings and technologies,” Jane said.

“By supporting producer groups to explore and adopt research findings on a commercial scale, we hope to shorten the time lag between innovation development and on-farm adoption.”

Mallee Best Wool Best Lamb group facilitator Garry Armstrong has worked on three PDS projects, and strongly recommended producer groups around the country take advantage of the opportunity to tackle their local issues in a planned and targeted way.

“PDS projects are a really practical way to develop practices which address issues that are challenging farmers at a local level,” Garry said.

“For example, we had an issue in the Mallee with a winter feed gap putting pressure on lamb production, particularly where fencing had been removed to allow larger cropping areas.

“This meant farmers couldn’t exert controlled grazing pressure to maximise pasture growth to support their lamb production. Through the PDS we started in 2010, we investigated using solar-powered electric fencing to strategically manage prime lamb production, including the option of grazing cereal crops to fill the winter feed gaps.” 

Garry said the practice changes identified by the project had been adopted by all 15 members of the group, with adaptations of the recommendations now common throughout the region.

Through the PDS program, producers are provided with a hands-on environment enabling them to share experiences and participate in the commercial application of research outcomes in important areas such as:

  • Improving reproductive performance
  • Grazing land management (north)
  • Pasture and grazing management (south)
  • Meeting market specifications and compliance
  • Improving liveweight gain (productivity)
  • Enhancing enterprise efficiency (business management and reduced risk)

Funding support is specifically aimed at supporting practice change and enable producer groups to advance the sustainable and profitable production of red meat and validate R&D knowledge.

Funding of up to $25,000 a year for a maximum of three years is available for up to five sheep focussed and up to three goat focussed projects to start between February and May 2016.

Preliminary applications should be submitted on or before 15 January 2016.

For more information go to:

Watch a video featuring Garry Armstrong and PDS participant Darren Barker talk about a trial in the Mallee of Victoria using Moby barley to help fill the winter and spring feed gap before stubbles became available for grazing.

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