Young dairy farmers helped with new infrastructure

Brad and Jenna White are dairy farmers in Riverslea. They’ve bucked the trend of young people leaving the land and are milking it. This is thanks to modernised water infrastructure supported by Southern Rural Water.

Brad and Jenna White are dairy farmers in Riverslea. They’ve bucked the trend of young people leaving the land and are milking it. This is thanks to modernised water infrastructure supported by Southern Rural Water.

They manage four properties, milking a 480-head seasonal-calving, self-replacing, Friesian-cross dairy herd. The couple have invested significantly to improve water efficiency and increase production.

Southern Rural Water’s $159.7 million Macalister Irrigation District 2030 (MID2030) modernisation program motivated the Whites to make on-farm improvements that allowed them to add 40 cows to the herd and buy an additional farm.

“We wanted to expand and would have struggled to do so without the improved security around irrigation flows. The MID2030 Stage 1B project is delivering those improved flows,” Brad said.

In 2020, Southern Rural Water removed old Detheridge wheels. They installed a new pipeline and upgraded and automated existing channels across the Riverslea section as part of Stage 1B.

“These works gave us the confidence to invest in the pipeline works on our farm. We installed and automated the associated pumps and built a holding dam. We also installed a pipe and riser system and centre pivots.”

Irrigation for dairy farmers core business

Irrigation is part of its core business for Brad, and he believes it’s worth investing in improving it.

“Irrigating is now a less time-consuming and much simpler task. We’ve been able to achieve much better water efficiency,” he said.

Results from the 2021-22 Dairy Farm Monitor Project revealed farmers believed succession planning, input costs, milk prices and climate change are significant challenges impacting the sector. However, the Whites feel optimistic about the future.

“For us, there’s never been a better time to be in dairy farming. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort building up and training a great team and investing in systems and technology that helps us keep costs under control,” Jenna said.

Even though wet conditions mean they’re likely to be less reliant on irrigated water this season, Jenna believes their efforts are worth it.

“Agriculture is cyclical. It might be raining now, but we could be in a drought next year, and the changes we’ve made will be worth it when times change.”

In January 2023, Southern Rural Water will start constructing the Newry pipeline as part of Phase 2 of the MID2030 project.

“Anyone who’s got modernisation coming should be very excited. If you’re willing to make changes on your property, the gains to be made are huge,” Jenna White said.

Related Articles:

Send this to a friend