Joint dairy research facility in Manawatū boosts on-farm research

Work is close to completion on Massey University’s Dairy 4 Farm, after the university partnered with AgResearch to boost on-farm research capability and facilities in the lower North Island.

The facility will enable greater interaction between staff and students of Massey and AgResearch and provide scope for a range of independent trials to operate at any one time.

The Dairy 4 Farm, adjacent to Massey’s Manawatū campus, has approximately 600 spring calving cows and is the largest of the university’s two farms.

Professor Paul Kenyon, Head of Massey’s School of Agriculture and Environment, says the new facilities will enable detailed research projects on the farm to be carried out at the same time as usual operations.

“The new facilities will boast two rotary milking platforms which will allow detailed research projects to take place alongside the farm’s daily operations,” Professor Kenyon says.  

“Other new facilities include a covered veterinary area for individual cow measurements and a multi-lane feed pad to enable differential feeding to various groups of cows. There will also be an effluent treating system, a data centre within the shed to store and manage research data, a teaching room and a biosecurity station.

“The partnership with AgResearch will help Massey build on its reputation of contributing world-leading pure and applied research, in partnership with industry, on matters that are of national and international interest including environmental impacts of climate change, biosecurity issues, animal welfare issues and economic threats posed by innovations in food production.” 

AgResearch Science Objective Leader and Principal Scientist Dr David Pacheco says it is rewarding to see the progress at the farm after the decision several years ago to invest with Massey in its development.

“With the expanded facilities available to us at the Dairy 4 Farm, we will be able to grow our science in critical areas such as greenhouse gas research, animal nutrition and health, through to finding ways to increase the value of New Zealand’s dairy products,” Dr Pacheco says.

“Our partnership with Massey means we can make the most out of combining our resources and expertise, while the close physical proximity of the farm to our respective facilities in Palmerston North makes everything simpler and more efficient. That close collaboration also means together we can develop the next generation of researchers to tackle the complex issues that New Zealand and the globe is facing.

“All of this benefits our dairy industry in New Zealand, and ultimately New Zealand as a leading international dairy producer.”

The Dairy 4 Farm is well known for its research into nutrient losses on heavy soils and recent collaborative work on partial housing systems for dairy cows. It has been operating for approximately 46 years and complements Massey’s Dairy 1 Farm – a 260 cow farm beside the Manawatū River.

Source:  Massey University/AgResearch

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog