Geoff Downie, a dairy farmer in the embattled Monto district of the North Burnett has won the Reef Rescue Dairy award, a project financed by the Burnett Mary Regional Group through the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country funding scheme.
It’s great to be given recognition by this award – it feels good to know that framers are being appreciated for improving farming technology,” Mr Downie said.
The Downies received two Water Quality Grants through the Reef Rescue program and attended several soils and nutrient management workshops run by the Queensland Dairying Better N Better program.
The workshops provided the Downies with the knowledge and tools to maximise nutrient use and efficiency, thereby aiding the reduction of input costs and assisting commercial viability of the business.
“The new infrastructure has improved our bottom line,” Mr Downie said.
The Downies improved water quality leaving their property by purchasing and converting a trailered planter to minimum till and by constructing a new creek crossing on Three Moon Creek to replace the original one that was damaged in the 2010-11 floods, leaving it unusable by machinery or cattle.
As a result, the risk of nutrients and sediment entering the catchment has been greatly reduced – dairySAT (a Self-assessment tool) indicates nutrient and sediment levels have been improved to above industry practice due to these projects.
The Downies invested a large amount of capital toward completing the projects during a time when margins are tight. Direct benefits to them were obvious when the works held up against the higher and more powerful flooding earlier this year.
There have been productivity and animal health gains as well.
The incidence of mastitis and hoof problems is reduced because the cattle can keep dry and free from bruising – they no longer need to swim across flooded areas to the milking shed. Direct results have included increased milk production, reduced veterinary and medicine bills and reduced erosion along the creek bank.
The new minimum till planter has reduced crop establishment costs as Mr Downie needs only one pass to plant his crop rather than the three or four previously required. The risk o nutrient and ground cover loss is also reduced, while improving soil structure and nutrient efficiency.
Watch the Downies’ success story on You Tube here.