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Lincoln University Dairy Farm launches new dairy sector research

Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) is launching three new farm systems initiatives at its demonstration farm, all geared at sustainable dairy farming practices.

Three new farming systems are now being implemented to expand LUDF’s focus and extend its outlook through to 2030. The research is on variable milking frequency; moving the forage base to include plantain and replacement rate reduction.

The South Island Dairying Demonstration Centre (SIDDC) has revised LUDF farm systems to more effectively contribute to New Zealand dairying and the wider primary sector.

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Lincoln University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards explains that SIDDC is committed to taking a leadership role in dairy farming in Aotearoa through LUDF.

“It’s important that the partnership regularly reassesses and revisits the farm’s systems to consolidate its position at the vanguard of current and future scenarios.”

DairyNZ General Manager for New Systems and Competitiveness Dr David McCall said New Zealand’s dairy sector is committed to remaining the most sustainable milk producers.

“As a SIDDC partner, we support LUDF implementing new farm systems. It is also exciting to see the adoption of variable milking frequencies, following DairyNZ’s three-year flexible milking project which highlighted the opportunities this system presents farmers.”

The variable milking programme to be implemented from the 2021/22 season involves moving from the traditional twice-a-day milking to a more flexible milking regime with 10 milkings over seven days.

AgResearch Sustainable Production Lead Dr Robyn Dynes says “that suits both cows and farm staff”.

SIDDC Demonstration Manager Jeremy Savage explains variable milking benefits.

“A variable milking programme will not only improve cow welfare through less lameness, better overall health condition and enhanced vigour, but will also lift the safety and wellbeing of staff, with kinder rosters, fewer early starts and more condensed workloads allowing for better work/life balance.”

“LUDF expects to achieve these improved outcomes without impacting profitability,” says Greg Hamill, LIC Genetics Business and Strategy Manager.

In addition, Jeremy explains that starting in October 2021 LUDF will plant at least 10% of the farm per year into plantain.

“This is a forage that may significantly reduce nitrogen leaching. With cow intakes of 30% plantain or higher we anticipate LUDF will achieve further improvements to its nitrogen leaching results,” said Jeremy.

“The potential benefits of reducing on-farm nitrogen leaching by up to 20% by managing the cows’ diets, and without reducing overall herd numbers, are obvious and compelling.”

In introducing plantain, LUDF is applying research from the Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) project. FRNL was a six-year cross-sector programme that looked at ways forages can reduce nitrate leaching.

Nearby Lincoln University Research Dairy Farm is also part of the Plantain Potency and Practice programme – a $22m research initiative into plantain on dairy farms.

LUDF’s third research initiative will be a greater focus on lowering the replacement rate of heifers for the herd. Greenhouse gas emissions modelling shows significant gains can be made by dropping the current 28% replacement rate to a target of 15-18%.

Ravensdown’s General Manager of Innovation and Strategy, Mike Manning: “The SIDDC partnership has been shaping LUDF over the last 20 years to anticipate changes to dairy farming and to demonstrate new approaches to farming in the future. These new systems are the next phase in the journey.”

The six SIDDC partners are excited by the changes underway and look forward to sharing the results with the wider dairy community.


LUDF is a 186-hectare demonstration dairy farm outside Lincoln township. It aims to maximise sustainable, profitable farming by optimising productivity, environmental footprint, and animal welfare targets.

The farm delivers demonstration of successful dairy farm practices for the wider dairy community. It is operated by South Island Dairying Demonstration Centre (SIDCC), an industry-funded partnership between Lincoln University, DairyNZ, Ravensdown, SIDE, LIC and AgResearch.

LUDF is also a hub where dairy farmers and other industry stakeholders gather to discuss new knowledge, skills, technology solutions and innovation impacting the sector.

Source: LUDF

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