AN INNOVATION Day has showcased the latest developments in agriculture across all commodities and provided hands-on workshops about how to implement these new ideas on-farm.
About 120 people, including farmers and service providers, attended the day at Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus in September. It was a collaboration between WestVic Dairy and the Great South Coast Food and Fibre Action Plan.
The workshops and presentations focused on current and future technology and innovations, such as the use of bio-digesters, virtual fencing, satellite imaging and much more.
A highlight of the day for many people was speaker Mark Trigg, who owns a dairy farm at Bungaree, outside Ballarat.
In his keynote session, ‘Turning Poo to Power’, Mr Trigg outlined his farm set-up, which is unusual for the Western District — his 350 cows are 100 per cent housed in a barn.
In a partnership with Gekko Industries, the Trigg family has come up with a methane digester.
The system consists of a pump and press, six shipping containers each containing a bladder, and a 35kVa generator.
The waste is pumped into the first bladder, where it is broken down by bacteria, excreting methane. This methane is harvested and used to fuel a power generator. The waste continues to move from one shipping container bladder to the next, which each containing a different variety of bacteria.
About 18 days after the process starts, out comes an odourless, organic material which can then be used as a solid fertiliser.
Meanwhile, the methane harvested is converted to electricity by the onsite generator. The generator supplies about half the power the dairy farm requires.
In the future there could be a ‘stage two’ with extra containers added to the digester, with the potential of generating sufficient power to make the dairy self-sustaining. There is also the option to sell the organic fertiliser by-product for a premium.
Other guest speakers included Food Agility CRC chair Anne Astin and Dairy Australia managing director David Nation.
WestVic Dairy regional manager Lindsay Ferguson said it was great to be working so closely with the Food and Fibre Council to bring a first class conference to farmers from all sectors.
“Agriculture is one of the most innovative industries and we are very proud to be able to showcase that,” Mr Ferguson said.
“Our program really had something for everyone in agriculture, beef, wool, cropping and, of course, dairy.”