THE Australian Fodder Industry Association has launched a fodder research, development and extension stocktake during this week’s National Fodder Conference being staged in Bendigo.
“AFIA believes that the stocktake, leading to the development of a strategic and collaborative R, D&E approach will deliver significant benefits to the Australian agriculture sector,” AFIA chief executive officer Paula Fitzgerald said.
It is estimated that 38,000 Australian farms are involved in the commercial production of fodder each year – however only about five percent of farmers consider themselves to be fodder producers, where fodder is the largest or a major financial part of their farming system.
Most farmers producing fodder consider themselves as ‘belonging’ to other commodity sectors where they derive most of their income – for example, livestock, grain, dairy or horticulture production.
“Because fodder production straddles many agricultural commodities, there is a need for greater strategic ‘fodder collaboration’ across the whole agriculture sector, rather than the current scenario where it is considered separately within individual commodity sectors,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“Also, like the cousin you only see at Christmas, fodder seems to be a top-of-mind topic in times of crisis such as drought and flood, But during other times it does not seem to be getting the consistent attention it needs and deserves.”
“Fodder provides a vital element to many agriculture enterprises, yet there does not appear to be a national approach to fodder as a key ‘resilience tool’, whereby we focus on the production of a quality product, maximise nutrition for livestock, and ensure best practice hay stacking and storage for fire prevention and minimising pest attack,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“These present opportunities for both research and producer education.”
While AgriFutures manages the export fodder levy and associated R, D & E investment, many other fodder-related RD& E projects are underway with no overarching analysis or coordination, through Research and Development Corporations, universities and CSIRO.
The AFIA RD&E stocktake aims to gain an understanding of current projects and timeframes, identify gaps and opportunities for collaboration, and finally develop a set of fodder industry long-term strategic priorities (engaging all relevant commodities) to ensure investments are coordinated and focused to deliver needed outcomes.
“The impacts of climate change, and the unpredictability of events such as floods, fires and drought, are making farming and feeding livestock more challenging. A strategic approach with industry agreed priorities to improve fodder research and production and supply is a no-brainer for Australian agriculture,” she said.
- This project is supported by Southern Farming Systems, via the Drought Hub and Innovation funding. Those engaged in fodder-related R, D & E are encouraged to contact AFIA via the project website.