FEEDBASE and digestion will be the focus of Western Dairy's Spring Field Day at Vasse Research Station next Tuesday.
The event will incorporate the Western Dairy annual general meeting, where local Busselton dairy farmer Grant Evans is expected to replace Vic Rodwell as chairman.
Helen Golder, who works with New South Wales-based dairy research and consultancy Scibus and specialises in rumen function, will be guest presenter in the morning.
Dr Golder has completed her doctorate on managing acidosis and will share her findings.
Her presentation will dovetail with those of Western Dairy researchers Ruairi McDonnell and Martin Staines.
Mr McDonnell will outline Western Dairy's transition to silage project, the methodology used and what has been learned so far.
In the afternoon, Dr Staines will outline research on use of lime on dairy pastures and the economic drivers behind it, as well as lead a tour of a trial site at Vasse, leased as a dairy farm to Scott and Michelle Weldon.
A discussion session with Dr Golder, Dr Staines, Mr McDonnell and Western Dairy agribusiness team leader Kirk Reynolds will conclude the field day at 2.15pm.
A smarter irrigation project - there is a demonstration site on Mick and Sophia Giumelli's Benger dairy farm - will be explained by agronomist Sam Taylor and Western Dairy research officer Dan Parnell will outline work on improving dairy effluent systems.
There will also be presentations on changes to Dairy Australia's employment starter kit (ESKi) initiative and on trainees and a review of training packages.
Mr Reynolds said the program will feature all research and extension activity being undertaken by the Western Dairy hub team.
He will outline operations since the hub took on dairy industry research, development and extension from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) 15 months ago.
"Research services that previously sat within DAFWA now sit with industry, but the initiative makes us much better placed to work with government through the partnership while forging a closer relationship between science and the farm base," Mr Reynolds said.
"Our mandate is to focus our research efforts on issues that are specific to WA and can complement the national dairy science effort.
"For us that means a focus on the feedbase through agronomy and ruminant nutrition themes, that take into account the soil types and available feed sources that are unique to the WA dairy industry.
"Helen's presentation will complement the work our research scientists Ruairi McDonnell and Martin Staines are undertaking in exploring methods to complete the dietary transition from grazed pasture to conserved forage, a research trial underway at Vasse," he said.
Almost halfway through a three-year funding agreement between DAFWA and Dairy Australia, Mr McDonnell put the hub's work into perspective ahead of the field day.
"In this time frame we have produced and had published more scientific papers than the previous five years," Mr McDonnell said.
"We have designed an entire experiment and completed the analysis of two others that were underway at the point of transitioning out of DAFWA into Western Dairy," he said.
The Bunbury-based hub is a collaboration between DAFWA, Dairy Australia, South West Catchments Council and Western Dairy but guaranteed government funding ends with the agreement.
"We all wanted to retain our dairy science capability through the changing landscape at DAFWA and to work with DAFWA and Dairy Australia to achieve that, has been a great achievement," said Western Dairy chairman elect Grant Evans.
Retiring chairman Mr Rodwell has served two three-year terms on the Western Dairy board and the annual meeting, held during the lunch break, will be an opportunity to acknowledge his contribution.
The meeting will consider two changes proposed to Western Dairy's constitution.
One change is to bring its rules into line with State government regulation for not-for-profit associations which applied from July 1.
The second proposal is to allow an extra two people to be co-opted by the board to "overcome any imbalance", add diversity or call on someone with unique knowledge, if needed.
Visitors are asked to be at the Spring Field Day by 9.45am for a 10am program start.
p For information: www.westerndairy.com.au.