Farming systems demonstrations program
What is it?
Agriculture Victoria conducts a producer demonstration program aimed at building productivity and competitiveness in Victoria’s sheep and beef industries. The program supports groups of livestock producers to conduct local, on-farm demonstrations addressing specific issues relevant to their group and region.
The demonstrations are conducted with BestWool/BestLamb (BWBL), BetterBeef (BBN) or other producer groups and receive support from Agriculture Victoria and potentially Meat & Livestock Australia, depending on the demonstration issue and the resources required.
What’s involved in a demonstration?
Demonstrations run for up to three years and involve practical, “hands-on” activities focussed on implementing new management practices, testing technologies or investigating potential solutions to problems in your local grazing system. They are conducted on group members’ farms and involve participation in skill development activities, monitoring, and evaluation of results.
Expressions of Interest (EOI) are now open
Is there a technology, innovation or research finding that you’re itching to test on farm? This could be your opportunity.
We are currently inviting expressions of interest from Victorian sheep and beef producer groups to design and conduct their own on-farm demonstrations.
Successful bids will be offered funding under either of the following arrangements:
- Enhanced Producer Demonstration Site Project – a collaborative funding arrangement between Agriculture Victoria and MLA, with support offered in the form of an Agriculture Victoria staff member and a budget for operating expenses of up to $8,000 per annum. Five of these demonstrations were recently established and there are opportunities to establish two more.
- Producer Co-Invested Demonstrations – supported by Agriculture Victoria only, where no additional operating expenses are required from outside the group. Support is offered in the form of an Agriculture Victoria staff member. There are opportunities for two new demonstrations under this arrangement.
What is the application process?
Applications should initially be made using the EOI form. The EOI form is designed to identify the group and “test” its thinking about the demonstration.
Funding is limited; therefore, EOI’s will be reviewed by Agriculture Victoria and representatives of Southern Australia Livestock Research Council regional committees to select the demonstration projects to be funded. Producer groups who are successful at the EOI stage will be asked to develop a full demonstration plan with the assistance of an Agriculture Victoria staff member. Feedback will be provided to all applicants.
Successful demonstration bids will be offered funding under either of the following arrangements:
- Enhanced Producer Demonstration Site Project – a collaborative funding arrangement between Agriculture Victoria and MLA, with support offered in the form of an Agriculture Victoria staff member and a budget for operating expenses of up to $8000 per annum.
- Producer Co-Invested Demonstrations – supported by Agriculture Victoria only, where no additional operating expenses are required from outside the group. Support is offered in the form of an Agriculture Victoria staff member.
Our preference is for three-year projects commencing in Autumn 2019, however this is dependent on the issue being demonstrated, the annual farming cycle and the funding arrangements for the demonstration. Final project reporting for MLA co-funded demonstrations is due by April 2022.
If your group is successful in securing funding to conduct a demonstration, Agriculture Victoria will request that demonstration site hosts will provide their biosecurity protocols (as per Livestock Production Assurance scheme) and sign a landholder collaboration agreement. This agreement will outline the responsibilities of both Agriculture Victoria and site hosts in conducting the demonstration.
How do the demonstrations work?
Ideas and topics for demonstrations come from members of producer groups. They involve practical, “hands-on” activities that are focussed on implementing new management practices, testing new technologies or investigating potential solutions to problems in your local grazing system. The demonstrations are conducted on group members’ farms (minimum of 4 sites per year) and involve participation by all group members though group activities including skill development, monitoring and discussion of results. The learning arising from these demonstrations will help your group members to improve the profitability and robustness of their farming businesses.
Why conduct on-farm demonstrations?
Agriculture Victoria, together with its partners, conducts this program in response to strong interest from producers in hosting or supporting on-farm demonstrations within their local groups. Group members understand that local demonstration sites can provide a focus for the group that will lead to solutions to common on-farm challenges.
Previous experience shows that the process of identifying the key on-farm challenges, developing solutions and trialling them in a local group environment gives producers ownership over the outcomes and increased confidence to make the changes that will enhance their livestock businesses.
What type of demonstrations will Agriculture Victoria support?
Demonstrations need to address a specific issue that is relevant to local farming systems. They generally run for one to three years and must be measurable in terms of impact. They must have the support and active involvement of a producer group and include monitoring, skill development around the demonstration theme, reporting, extension events and activities conducted by Agriculture Victoria in conjunction with the group.
The demonstrations must focus on increasing productivity through one or more of the following focus areas that align with the priorities of Agriculture Victoria’s and the Southern Australian Livestock Research Council’s (SALRC) Victorian regional priorities:
- Developing innovative farming practices or systems suited to specific regional conditions (pasture and grazing management)- including feed gaps and changing climate
- Improving livestock fertility and reproductive efficiency
- Improving lamb and weaner survival
- Improving weaner growth rates
- Supporting the growth of the feedlot / finishing sector
- Responding to market requirements through the supply chain
For more information about regional priorities, please contact your SAMRC regional chair (see below).
What is Agriculture Victoria’s role?
Agriculture Victoria will:
- Provide technical advice
- Assist the group to design a demonstration that will achieve the stated objectives, develop a delivery plan, conduct, monitor and evaluate the demonstration
- Where possible, assist with provision of the equipment required to monitor the demonstration (e.g. livestock scales, and data recording equipment such as RFID tag readers and Walk Over Weighing panels)
- Facilitate and provide speakers for group activities associated with the demonstration
- Provide linkages with other groups to ensure that our producer networks are getting the most out of the full range of demonstration sites
- Share the results of your demonstration with other producers and groups during and beyond the life of the demonstration (e.g. conduct field days, news media, prepare case studies)
- Assist with reporting milestones, quarterly and final reports
In situations where specific expertise is not available within Agriculture Victoria, an external consultant will be appointed to the project.
What is Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) role?
MLA are co-funding seven demonstrations over the next four years. Two new demonstrations will be offered this type of funding and will be identified during the application and screening process according to the project requirements (see below).
What is the group’s role?
Each group is expected to take ownership of its demonstration. This includes identifying the issue or topic, design, set-up, data collection and activities around the demonstration. Evidence of strong group participation is required for the demonstration to receive funding.
The group should be willing to open up some extension events associated with the demonstration to producers outside of the group.
The group will need to nominate a key contact person to work with Agriculture Victoria.
A minimum of four farms must host a demonstration site (or implement some aspect of the demonstration) each year for the duration of the demonstration.
The host farmer(s) must be willing to hold extension events on the property and have case study material developed around the demonstration.
What is the selection criteria?
Expressions of interest will be assessed against the five criteria listed on the EOI form. These include:
- The purpose and role of the group, including its commitment to developing the skills and productivity of its members (e.g. through training activities, engagement with local agribusiness and organisations)
- The challenge or problem to be investigated (its importance and relevance to the industry)
- The overall aim of the project and its specific objectives
- Brief project methodology (i.e. what will the demonstration undertake and how this will provide a solution to the problem? What will you measure and how will you evaluate results?)
- The level of commitment within the group (i.e. how the group members will participate and contribute)
- Communication and extension strategy (i.e. intentions to encourage wider awareness of the demonstration and engage producers outside of the group in understanding the outcomes)
What happens if you are successful in the EOI process?
If your group is successful, Agriculture Victoria will support your group to develop a project plan that must meet the following criteria:
- Technically sound
- Sound animal welfare and environmental practices
- Freedom from any conflicts of interest
- Project alignment with Agriculture Victoria/SAMRC priority areas
- Potential impact of project within group (group size and characteristics, and how the project will support change within the group membership)
- Potential impact of project within industry (relative importance of issue, and how the project will support change within the wider industry)
- Rigor of demonstration design (including monitoring and evaluation incorporating “before” and “after” analysis of relevant production, economic and environmental measures)
- Support from group (commitment of group to building its collective capacity) and industry (evidence of industry support e.g. in kind, sponsorship)
- Nominated activities to promote awareness of the project and engagement of producers within and outside of the core group
What are the timelines?
1. EOI Release
Call for Preliminary Proposals
14 December 2018
2. Preliminary Proposal Preparation
Producer groups respond to EOI and submit completed EOI form by Wednesday 20 February.
20 February 2019
3. Agriculture Victoria & SALRC Screening
Agriculture Victoria and Southern Australian Livestock Research Council (SALRC), shortlist and recommend successful proposals (EOIs).
25 February 2019
Successful candidates are notified and Agriculture Victoria staff assigned to the project to help develop full project plan in accordance with recommendations.
27 February 2019
5. Full Project Plan
Full project plan due.
18 March 2019
6. Agriculture Victoria Review
Agriculture Victoria (and partners where appropriate) evaluate full project plan and make recommendations to candidates for revisions, according to the above assessment criteria.
22 March 2019
7. Final Approval
Final project approval will be the decision of Agriculture Victoria (and partners if appropriate). Project delivery plan & contracts completed and signed.
29 March 2019
For more information and to submit your EOI
Acting Project Leader, Farming Systems Demonstration Project
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
703–709 Raglan Parade
Warrnambool Victoria 3280
Phone: (03) 5561 9909
Mobile: 0428 589 016
Fax: (03) 5561 9988
Current and recent demonstrations
Title and description
Agriculture Victoria demonstration co-ordinator
Shelter options for lamb survival
Demonstrating the economic, social and environmental benefits of increased shelter for lamb survival through the establishment of hedgerows of Tall Wheat Grass, leguminous shrubs, straw bales and shade cloth.
Casterton, Cavendish & Avoca BWBL
Pasture cropping to fill the winter feed gap
Demonstrating the benefits to the grazing system from sowing an oat crop into an existing phalaris pasture and grazing in winter.
Autumn savings of pastures
Demonstrating productivity benefits from meeting pasture production levels for twin bearing ewes by deferring grazing it in autumn until minimum feed on offer levels have been reached (1400kg DM/ha).
Innovative use of Gibberellic Acid
Establishing best practice guidelines for Gibberellic Acid (GA) use in the Upper Wimmera and Central Victoria regions, and demonstrating the impact of GA as a non-chemical weed control measure.
Perennial Pasture Systems
Pedigree Matchmaker (PMM) for beef
Demonstrating the use of PMM technology within a commercial beef enterprise to establish maternal pedigree and enable identification and selection of superior breeders.
2016 - 2018
Grazing management for improved reproduction and reduced turnoff times
Improving production by combining rotational grazing technologies, current and emerging varieties of fodder crops and the best available sheep genetics.
Rich River BWBL
2016 - 2018
Feeding systems for growing lambs
Use of creep feeding for lambs pre-weaning to improve growth rate and turnoff times.
2016 - 2018
Weaning strategies for improved productivity
Demonstrating the impact of enhanced training techniques at weaning and induction on cattle performance.
South Gippsland farmers
2016 - 2018
Impact of green feed on conception
Validating and demonstrating the impact of grazing lucerne (and other green feeds) at joining on conception and comparing this with the impacts of feeding lupins or joining on dry standing feed. The project also investigates the impact of grazing Lucerne on early embryo mortality.
Individual co-operators (statewide)
2016 - 2018
To weigh or not to weigh all my lambs
Demonstrating how much monitoring is required to accurately predict weights and sale dates of lambs, whilst optimising labour requirements and lamb performance.
Rich River BWBL
2019 - 2022
Annual grass control strategies in perennial pastures
Demonstrating the impact (both positive and negative) of various annual weed control strategies on total dry matter production and pasture composition in perennial pastures.
Perennial Pasture Systems
2019 - 2022
Using drones on farm to check sheep welfare
Demonstrating and measuring on farm use of a drone to check sheep welfare at lambing and comparing the level of disturbance from a drone to normal practise. Identifying uses for drones at other times of the year, such as checking water troughs in summer.
2019 - 2022
Increasing lamb survival
Demonstrating increased lamb survival by following the Lifting Lamb Survival Paddock Planning and National Lambing Density Protocols. Measuring the benefits from paddock size, mob size, stocking rate, ewe condition score and improved shelter.
Western Plains BWBL
2019 - 2022
Maximising genetic improvement in cattle herds
Demonstrating and assesses the advantages of using the Bred Well Fed Well Cattle principles to increase reproductive efficiency through improved monitoring and management.
Mackillop Farm Management Group
2019 - 2022
Demonstrating the benefits of dung beetles to prime lamb producers
Investigating the presence of dung beetles in southwest Victoria and demonstrating their benefits to prime lamb operations.
SW Prime Lamb (BWBL) Group
2019 - 2022