Since its inception in 2017, the partnership between Landcare Australia and The a2 Milk® Company has provided more than $1 million in funding for sustainability initiatives with positive environmental, animal health and well-being and business outcomes for a2 Milk® farms.
This includes the 2023 a2 Milk® Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grants that are providing $215,000 of funding to eight dairy farmers in New South Wales and Victoria for their grant projects.
The projects, funded up to $30,000 each, focus on different initiatives to enhance sustainability and achieve positive environmental, animal health and well-being and business outcomes, such as improved water quality, enhanced productivity, and better soil health, as well as energy reduction initiatives.
There are 23 certified a2 Milk® dairy farms across Australia. Each cow on these farms has been selected to produce only the A2 protein and none of the A1 protein found in regular cows’ milk.
2022 a2 Milk® Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grant Recipients:
NEW SOUTH WALES:
MD and PM Gray (NSW): The Gray’s will build farm resilience by constructing a shelter to cover the feed pad for their milking herd. This will provide a safe area for the cows during weather events, reduce the herd’s heat stress in the summer months and their need for access to the nearby creek, thus decreasing riverbank erosion, effluent runoff as well as improving cow comfort.
Green Hollow (NSW): Green Hollow farm will create concrete laneways to further extend walking tracks for cattle. This project will reduce erosion caused by cattle, reduce risk of mastitis through mud exposure, improve accessibility in wet weather and manage water run-off into the catchment creek.
Hastings Park (NSW): Hastings Park farm will erect a shade roof to improve on-farm resilience and emergency shelter for their herd as their property has been heavily affected by fires and floods over the past four years. This will enable the farm to improve cow health during these adverse weather events.
D and M Stewart (VIC): The Stewarts will install a 98 KW solar system as a first step toward a farm fully powered by green energy. The solar system will not only reduce their greenhouse gas emissions but the cost benefit will allow for investment in cooling fans for the calf sheds and calving barn.
Inionba Pastoral (VIC): Inionba Pastoral will build a new eight megalitre recycle dam to retain rainwater from the roof of the compost barn. This water will be recycled and used for barn cleaning and irrigation of pasture paddocks.
Kayton Holsteins (VIC): Kayton Holsteins farm will procure a manure spreader, allowing the farm to use the natural compost and manure created by their animals to sustainably fertilise their land. The manure will allow carbon sequestration and improve soil health.
BJ and ML O’Shannessy (VIC): The Shannessys will be planting a large number of diverse, local native trees with guidance from a local permaculture expert. These trees will provide a number of benefits including sheltering cattle, encouraging birdlife and improving soil health and biodiversity.
G Wachter (VIC): Mr Wachter will construct a calf shelter to protect his animals from adverse environmental conditions. The calf shelter will reduce water usage and improve water quality, calf health and on-farm biosecurity.
Case Studies for a selection of previous a2 Milk® Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grant projects:
Hastings Park’s Leo and Sue Cleary launched their Nutrient Reuse Project to effectively distribute dairy waste water to assist pasture growth over their farm’s irrigated section.
With the support of the a2™ Milk Company Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grants, they built two 50-metre-long plumbed trenches, injecting effluent water from the storage dam into the irrigation delivery line. The project allowed the Cleary’s to successfully reduce the farm’s reliance on chemical fertilisers and reduced their water requirements for irrigation by 10%.
Anna Fitzgerald from Warrina Farm used her Effluent Upgrade project to ensure their effluent system met environmental best practice.
The a2™ Milk Company Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grants allowed her to partially relocate and update the effluent system, adding pipework to the internal drain for mixing with irrigation water on farm. With a larger pond and upgraded plumbing, the longevity of Anna’s effluent system is ensured and fertilisation of pastures from the water stores is no longer reliant on pond capacity.
With the support of the a2™ Milk Company Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grants, Tim Billing installed a 55kw solar system on his NSW dairy farm, reducing his farm’s reliance on-grid power.
By installing solar panels along with a heat recovery system which utilises heat lost from milk refrigeration, Tim cut the farm’s on-grid power usage by 25 percent. The solar panels provide 100 percent of the power for grain milling when operated in the middle of the day, while the heat recovery system has two inverters synchronised with the dairy’s operations to draw on solar energy when it is available.
Brad O’Shannessy used his a2™ Milk Company Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grant to install high efficiency CO2 water heating and reduce energy consumption on his Victorian dairy farm.
Prior to installing the heating system, Brad was experiencing milk quality issues as the hot water system was unable to heat water to the required temperature overnight. With the new system installed, a constant reliable source of hot water generated from stored solar energy was made available. This resulted in improved milk quality and greater sustainability of on-farm operations.