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TAS Country : December 9th 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010 Tasmanian Country 9 News Dire result from lack of research JENNIFER CRAWLEY A GROUP of agricultural scientists and industry insiders has warned of dire consequences if the current slide in agricultural research and development funding is not arrested. They have called for an urgent halt to the decline of research investment in Australia. ''It must not be allowed to continue,'' Tasmanian division of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology president Brian Stewart said at a national R&D symposium in Launceston. He said reduced research led to reductions in productivity gains, dim- inished academic recruitment into agriculture, weakened agricultural fac- ulties in Australian universities. Scientists and agri-business leaders said there was a pressing need to get rural industry and governments to recognise and act on the emerging crisis in agricultural RD&E skills capacity. ''This is the result of government policies which have driven the ongoing decline in RD&E investment in Aust- ralian agriculture in the last two decades,'' Mr Stewart said. ''A large proportion of Australia's human capital in agricultural RD&E will be retiring in the next five to 10 years and there has been insufficient recruitment to meet future needs.'' He said low levels of agricultural RD&E investment ''result in dimin- ished capacity to adapt to climate change, it will increase domestic food prices and cause loss of scale in some local food producing industries as they become less competitive''. ''It will reduce gross domestic prod- uct, and will have negative impacts on the social and environmental resilience of regional Australia, and finally the food security of countries to which Australia currently exports,'' he said. COOL COMFORT: Lyndon, left, and Jarrod Smith say it's harder to get cows out of the shelters than into them. Consuming interest in air-con for cows JENNIFER CRAWLEY HERD HILTON: The shelters are cooler in summer and warmer in winter than in the open. LYNDON Smith is the owner of the biggest dairy cow sheds in Tasmania. Interest is so great in the two New Zealand Herd Homes that a field day at the Winneleah property of Lyndon and his son Jarrod Smith's has been organised and is expected to attract over 100 people. The Smiths decided to invest in the Herd Homes after dairy farmers faced one of the wettest springs in many years. ''That really wet spring we had the season before last we just didn't know which way to turn,'' Lyndon said. ''We had cows we were trying to push through mud. It's probably 10 years since we had a spring like that. ''We have to milk this many cows to survive and we thought there's just got to be another way. ''We had to dry 30 cows off because they went lame, they couldn't walk and that was a pretty big financial loss, we still had to run them but we couldn't just walk them, it was just unbelievable.'' The Herd Homes were a big project for the Smith family and construction is only just finished. ''The cows are still milking at peak production and the weather's ideal for them to be outside,'' Lyndon said. ''It's not too hot and it's not to wet so we haven't had them in there yet. ''We won't interfere with their routine while they are producing so high, we'll wait till they go off a little bit before we start experimenting.'' Dairy cows will be introduced to their new shelter when the days start to get hot in January, Lyndon said. ''There's just a tremendous amount of interest about them among farmers,'' Lyndon said. Large bunkers underneath the grate floors of the homes collect manure and straw, which is composted over time. The bunkers are cleaned out once a year.The grates are lifted out in sections by a front-end loader. The bunkers are taken out and the compost spread on paddocks. ''It's easy to spread around and there's not much wash to push it into waterways, it's got a lot of environmental thought gone into it,'' Lyndon said. The roof opens up when the temperature reaches a certain degree and creates circulation in the summer. The Herd Homes are 8 to 9 degrees warmer in winter than the outside temperature and 5 to 6 degrees cooler in the summer. Cows voluntarily walk into the shelter, Lyndon said. ''They go out into the paddock and graze for a couple of hours then head straight back to the Herd Home,'' he said. ''They have more trouble getting them out than they do getting them in.'' The Herd Home field day is on Friday, December 17 at Lyndon and Jarrod Smith's, Winneleah. Lunch provided. RSVP Rob Le Grange 0408 563 762.
December 2nd 2010
December 16th 2010