The Dairy Reef Alliance Program is aimed at working with farmers that haven’t previously engaged in Reef programs but have the capacity to change. The program, which is a subprogram of the Reef Alliance Program, is engaging 60 dairy farms across the Mary River and Herbert and Johnstone catchments (in the Wet Tropics).
Throughout 2017, participants were involved in completing benchmarking of management practices and development of action plans. Farmers completed the Qld Dairy Self Assessment Tool (QDairySAT) assessing practices relating to soils, nutrients, effluent management and reuse, vegetation, water use efficiency, farm wastes, energy, greenhouse gas and business management practices. Priorities across the regions varied from farm to farm, but some of the top priorities included business management, business planning including succession, soils and nutrients, nutrient reuse, loafing areas and shade shelters.
A highlight of the Dairy program in late 2017, was the successful recruiting of 5 new businesses to undertake business benchmarking activities which have not previously completed this exercise. The business benchmarking program examines a range of KPIs across the dairy business, which can then be used to develop strategies on how to make improvements.
Annual benchmarking enables the farmers to look at trends across multi years, but also analyse their performance against industry averages and trends. With good financial management, farmers will be better placed to invest in sustainable management practices to ensure long term viability. Over the coming 6 months farmers will be working towards building their knowledge and skills across their priority areas whilst reviewing their individual action plans, along with the delivery of a small incentive program.