Farming systems demonstrations program

Farm dog watching demonstration at field dayAgriculture 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.

Depending on the demonstration issue and the resources required they receive support from:

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Meat & Livestock Australia.

Current demonstrations

Three Using soil moisture probes to predict spring pasture growth demonstrations are being held in the north and west of Victoria. In the west of Victoria the following demonstrations are underway: Ag Tech- sensors and network demonstration, Annual grass control strategies in perennial pastures, To wean or not to wean lambs in the Wimmera and Using drones on farm to check sheep welfare. In the South West of Victoria: Demonstrating the benefits of dung beetles to prime lamb producers and Increasing lamb survival. In the north of Victoria demonstrations are To weigh or not to weigh all my lambs all the time, Breeding objectives- setting and getting change (merinos) and Filling the feed gap with fodder beet.

These demonstrations are underway.

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Green, yellow coloured wheat looking grassDemonstrating the impact (both positive and negative) of various annual weed control strategies on total dry matter production and pasture composition in perennial pastures.

Resources and updates:

Summary:

Group name and coordinator

Perennial pasture systems

Rob Shea
M: 0438 521 357

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Tess McDougall
P: 5355 0530
M: 0409 841 492

This demonstration is co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Aerial view from drone of sheep in the paddockDemonstrating 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.

Resources and updates

Summary:

Group name and coordinator

Boort BWBL

Erica Schelfhorst
M: 0429 807 689

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Erica Schelfhorst, Bendigo
P: 5430 4444
M: 0429 807 689

This demonstration is co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Condition scoring ewes for the demonstration, farmer feeling the back of the sheep in a runDemonstrating 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.

Resources and updates:

Summary:

Group name and coordinator

Western Plains BWBL

Andrew Kennedy
M: 0408 512 240

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Cathy Mulligan, Queenscliff
P: 5258 0229
M: 0438 341 970

This demonstration is co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Farmer crouched in a field using a ruler to measuring spring growth near the soil moisture probeInvestigating the use of soil moisture probes to predict late winter/spring pasture growth and options for using this information to improve feed management.

Summary:

Group name and coordinators

Soil moisture probe network

Andrew Speirs
M: 0428 685 172

Andrew Kennedy
M: 0408 512 240

John McMaster
M: 0428 293 750

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Jane Court, Bendigo
P: 5430 4597
M: 0436 606 742

This demonstration is co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Male and female dung beetle on a hand, they are black with a hard shellInvestigating the presence of dung beetles in southwest Victoria and demonstrating their benefits to prime lamb operations.

Resources and updates:

Group name and coordinator

SW Prime Lamb (BWBL) Group

Andrew Kennedy
M: 0408 512 240

Project Officer
Kate Joseph
M: 0428 541 158

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Bindi Hunter, Warrnambool
P: 5561 9909
M: 0428 589 016

This demonstration is co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Fodder beet on ground next to shovelIncrease the per hectare production of beef by filling the late autumn/early winter feed deficit using: high-yielding, high-quality fodder beet crops or early sown grazing cereals.

Resources and updates:

Summary:

Group name and coordinator

Victorian Fodder Beet Beef Group

Chris Mirams
M: 0409 205 235

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Nick Linden, Rutherglen
P: 02 6030 4563
M: 0438 369 486

This demonstration is co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Farmers learning to condition score ewesDemonstrating the benefits of weaning lambs compared to selling unweaned suckers for Wimmera mixed cropping/livestock properties.

Resources and updates:

July 2021 update

Summary:

Group name and coordinator

St Arnaud BWBL

Steve Cotton
M: 0447 352 321

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Rachel Coombes, Swan Hill
P: 5036 4824
M: 0436 001 258

This demonstration is co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Farmer weighing a sheep in a cart like deviceDemonstrating how much monitoring is required to accurately predict weights and sale dates of lambs, whilst optimising labour requirements and lamb performance.

Summary:

Group name and coordinator

Rich River BWBL

Kristy Howard
M: 0400 282 222

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Kirstie Anderson, Benalla
M: 0437 990 967

Close up of agriculture tech sensor equipment beside a fence, used to measure soil moistureDemonstrating and evaluating the use of new, commercially available sensor-based technologies for monitoring:

  • electric fencing
  • soil moisture
  • livestock
  • weather
  • tanks.

Resources: AgTech Bytes

Case study: AgTech

Group name and coordinator

GSSA Pasture Tech Group

Jonathan Jenkin
M: 0456 853 535

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Chris Blore, Hamilton
P: 5573 0720
M: 0428 155 781

Heads of hundreds of merino sheep in a runBenchmarking the genetic potential of six commercial Merino flocks and ensuring that genetic and phenotypic potential of weaners is aligned to a stated breeding objective, driving genetic progress. This demonstration is funded by MLA.

Resources and updates

Group name and coordinator

Agriculture Victoria demonstration co-ordinator

Nick Linden
M: 0438 396 486

Lambs Alive

Jason Trompf
M: 0408 211 864

This demonstration is funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.

Map of field with different sections of soilThe aim of this Producer Demonstration Site project is to evaluate precision soil testing and variable rate fertiliser applications (VRA) in Central Victoria. The project measures production and economic benefits to assess the value of precision agriculture for grazing properties.

Group name and coordinator

Smeaton and Pyrenees BWBL

Neil James
M: 0417 353 929

Precision Ag

Sebastian Ie
M: 0476 849 665

This demonstration is funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.

Completed demonstrations

Final reports and factsheets are included below for these recent demonstrations and are also available on the MLA website.

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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.

Demonstration summary:

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Casterton, Cavendish and Avoca BWBL

Andrew Speirs
M: 0428 685 172

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Grace Calder, Ballarat
P: 5336 6628
M: 0429 523 317

Demonstrating the benefits to the grazing system from sowing an oat crop into an existing phalaris pasture and grazing in winter.

Demonstration summary:

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Glenelg BWBL

Tim Leeming
M: 0427 797 242

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Bindi Hunter, Warrnambool
P: 5561 9909
M: 0428 589 016

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).

Demonstration summary:

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Glenthompson – Dunkeld BWBL

Andrew Whale
M: 0428 374 046

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Bindi Hunter, Warrnambool
P: 5561 9909
M: 0428 589 016

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.

Demonstration summary:

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Perennial Pasture Systems

Rob Shea
M: 0438 521 357

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Rachael Campbell, Ballarat
P: 5336 6868
M: 0447 347 162

Demonstrating the use of PMM technology within a commercial beef enterprise to establish maternal pedigree and enable identification and selection of superior breeders.

Demonstration fact sheet:

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Colac BWBL

Nathan Scott
M: 0409 493 346

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Chris Blore, Hamilton
P: 5573 0720
M: 0428 155 781

Improving production by combining rotational grazing technologies, current and emerging varieties of fodder crops and the best available sheep genetics.

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Rich River BWBL

Kristy Howard
M: 0400 282 222

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Garry Armstrong, Echuca
P: 5430 4716
M: 0472 871 674

Use of creep feeding for lambs pre-weaning to improve growth rate and turnoff times.

Case study:

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Bullioh BWBL

Kristy Howard
M: 0400 282 222

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Gervaise Gaunt, Rutherglen
P: 02 6030 4571
M: 0409 027 115

Demonstrating the impact of enhanced training techniques at weaning and induction on cattle performance.

Demonstration fact sheet:

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

South Gippsland farmers

Clare Harris

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 investigated the impact of grazing Lucerne on early embryo mortality.

Final report:

Group name and coordinator

Individual co-operators (statewide)

Agriculture Victoria demonstration coordinator

Gervaise Gaunt, Rutherglen
P: 02 6030 4571
M: 0409 027 115

About on-farm demonstrations

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Demonstrations run for up to three years and involve practical, hands-on activities focused 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
  • evaluation of results.

Ideas and topics for demonstrations come from members of producer groups.

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.

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.

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.

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 (for example, livestock scales, and data recording equipment such as RFID tag readers and Walk Over Weighing panels)
  • help with 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 (for example, conduct field days, news media, prepare case studies)
  • assist with reporting.

In situations where specific expertise is not available within Agriculture Victoria, an external consultant will be appointed to the project.

MLA co-funded seven of the current demonstrations, as well as the completed demonstrations.

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.

How do I get involved?

Expressions of interest for new demonstrations are promoted through:

Page last updated: 18 Aug 2021