Seventeen Gippsland dairy farmers recently returned from a four-day tour of the Bega Valley with Notman Pasture Seeds, stepping on farm with enthusiastic dairy operators.

The tour, organised by Notman Pasture Seeds, developed opportunities to engage and learn from fellow dairy farmers in the Bega Valley, visiting leading dairy & fodder operations, networking with Dairy Australia, Far South Coast Development Group, Bega Cheese & Rabobank representatives.

Whilst the current challenging dairy economics were present in most conversations, the group were keen to pick up farming developments translatable to operations in Gippsland.

Extensive development highlights included the Kimber’s sustainable large scale lucerne and Pioneer maize fodder farm at Chakola supporting their 1200 cows at Bega, Trevor Platt’s passion for developing dryland into productive irrigated pastures and Richard & Debbie Platts optimising daily nutrition & hygiene with automated calf feeding & housing.

A common thread with all involved was minimising feed costs by planting persistent high performing grasses to maximise the dry matter grown per hectare. Like so many operations in Gippsland, Bega Valley farmers have adopted new pasture technologies that respond well to fertiliser applications bounce back well after hard grazing’s and drier conditions.

Varieties that have performed well in Gippsland had also done so in the Bega Valley with Bullet Annual Ryegrass and Vibe Italian Ryegrass carrying pasture quality longer into spring and had been persistent even under harsh management conditions.

Pressure was evident from dominant species on the moderately fertile soils in the Bega Valley including kikuyu and love grass, which were managed with intensive stocking and rotational crops such as forage rape and millet.

The tour concluded with pasture and summer cropping dryland/irrigation operations of ex-Gippsland dairy farmers Mick & Ancret Shipton at Bemboka and popular couple Ian ‘Toad’ and Mandy Heffernan at Kanoona who featured on House Rules in 2018.

“It was great to hear from Bega Valley dairy farmers on how they tackle local conditions and how this helps grow their own businesses to succeed’ Peter said.