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Dairy Australia’s new approach seeks global solutions to shared challenges

Innovation champion Dairy Australia is levelling up – looking beyond traditional R&D partners and using AgriFutures growAG. platform to find innovators to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges. Across the globe, if you’re an entrepreneur, startup or scaleup with solutions to methane, data, and labour challenges, Dairy Australia wants to hear from you. 

Methane Challenge | Photo Credit: Dairy Australia

From feedbase management that optimises animal health, to genomic testing that improves herd performance, Dairy Australia has long championed innovations that shift the needle for farmers – driving production efficiency and sustainability that’s the envy of dairy industries worldwide.  

And while 84 % of Australian dairy farmers are positive about their future, climate change, labour shortages, and the pressure to optimise on-farm decision-making, all weigh heavily on the industry’s mind.  

To tackle these challenges, the industry services company is levelling up its approach to innovation – and they’re using growAG. to reach the global agtech ecosystem to help find solutions.  

Dairy Australia Managing Director, David Nation, explained, “As the industry services company for the dairy industry, we’re always looking at how we can leverage R&D to generate more profitability and sustainability for our levy payers.”  

For 20 years, that’s meant working closely with Australia’s research sector to deliver solutions that have transformed our dairy industry.   

But now, they’re keen to look further afield for solutions. As David explained, “While Australian dairy producers are rapid adopters of technology, our industry milks just 1.5 million of the world’s 630 million dairy cows.”  

“It makes sense that a lot of new technology is being developed in the big dairy producing regions like Europe and North America. And it makes sense that we should look to those places for answers, too.” 

Spearheading Dairy Australia’s new approach is Head of Innovation, Emily Samyue, whose remit includes finding alternative pathways to sourcing and delivering innovative solutions that drive impact on farm. That includes not just looking globally, but to local innovators who traditionally haven’t engaged on dairy solutions. 

“Launching our new Innovation Challenges on growAG. is part of that,” said Emily. “We’re hoping to flush out non-traditional providers – both here and overseas – who have an idea, or an existing technology that we can repurpose, to tackle some of the biggest challenges that industry faces.” 

Check out Dairy Australia’s innovation challenges listed on growAG.

When it comes to methane, “a cow is a cow”

The Australian dairy industry accounts for 10 % of Australia’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, with 56 per cent coming from methane. So it’s no surprise that enteric methane reduction and mitigation is one of the industry’s key research priorities.  

“We're quite aware there’s no silver bullet,” said Emily.

Our methane innovation challenge is looking for proof-of-concept research projects which can deliver feasible methane reduction solutions for dairy across a range of technologies – from genetics, to feed and supplements, to catalytic converters; different technologies that can assist in collectively battling this problem at the farm level, without adverse impacts on animal health, feed conversion efficiency, milk quality or milk production.” 

“A cow is a cow,” added David. “So, if someone's coming up with an amazing methane reducing technology anywhere in the world, for beef cattle or for dairy, we’re interested.”  

Check out Dairy Australia’s methane innovation challenge listed on growAG. 

One-stop-shop for dairy farm business data

Modern dairying is a complex game, and finding solutions that help farmers better capture and make use of the broad range of production, market, financial, and carbon data available to them is a key priority.  

Dairy Australia’s innovation challenge for streamlined and consolidated data seeks proof-of-concept research projects that enable the capture of farm physical data and other relevant data sources into one user-friendly platform. 

“It’s about how can we better pipe information along the supply chain, so that we're getting better decision making on-farm. And by improving industry-level data collection, better decision making at a national industry level, too,” said Emily. 

Participants in the Dairy Australia Data Challenge | Photo Credit: Dairy Australia

Check out Dairy Australia’s innovation challenge for streamlined and consolidated data listed on growAG .

Attracting – and retaining – the right people

Another big issue for dairy businesses is attracting and retaining employees. With its early morning starts, 365-day roster, and challenging perceptions around amenity and safety, attracting workers remains a challenge.  

“To overcome this, we need to better describe what our career value proposition is,” explained Emily.  

Dairy Australia’s career in dairy farming innovation challenge seeks solution providers to identify novel technology that enhances the experience of a job seeker, by providing a realistic and positive Employment Value Proposition (EVP) of life on a dairy.  

“Working with animals, working outside, working autonomously – and the higher purpose of helping to feed the world – these are the positives of a career in dairying,” added Emily. “We need people to see that side, too.” 

Labour Challenge | Photo Credit: Dairy Australia

Check out Dairy Australia’s career in dairy farming innovation challenge listed on growAG.

Supporting a thriving innovation ecosystem

Dairy Australia sees its role as a modern industry services company whose active contribution to the agtech ecosystem can bring solutions to market in Australia faster. And it is embracing modern ways of engaging.  

“Forums like the hackathons we recently hosted with Farmers to Founders allow us to support innovative ideas, but also give our staff an opportunity to engage with innovators and start thinking in innovative ways themselves,” explained David. “To make a meaningful contribution to that melting pot of ideas.” 

The Farmers to Founders hackathon was Dairy Australia’s first foray into seeking innovation from global providers, and it’s something Emily wants to see more of.    

“I think most Australian R&D investors are in the same position, where we’ve focused on homegrown solutions. But the international market has a massive piece to contribute – especially on shared challenges. And potentially, they're a lot further along than some of the initiatives here. So we need to be looking outside our borders.”  

“Because we're not the only ones battling with data. We're not the only ones battling with labour shortages. And we’re not the only ones battling methane.” 

David added, “We want to create an ecosystem where innovators say, ‘Australia would be a great market to talk to when I've got a really good idea.’”  

“We’re a highly advanced dairy industry; the fourth biggest exporter in the world. So we’re big enough to be significant, but nimble enough to drive adoption. There should be a natural attraction to global tech companies seeking to develop a new market.” 

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