Samantha Flight1, Lydia Turner1, Symon Jones1, Lesley Irvine1
1Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania, Cradle Coast Campus, Burnie, Australia
Corresponding author: Samantha Flight; Samantha.Flight@utas.edu.au
The Tasmanian dairy industry is predominantly pasture-based and pasture consumption is a key driver of dairy farm profitability. Due to this, Tasmanian dairy research, development and extension has a focus on increasing the amount of pasture grown and consumed by dairy cows. At an industry level, average pasture consumption has increased from 8.5 t DM/ha to 10.6 t DM/ha over the past 10 years. Coaching is one of the extension methods used in the Tasmanian dairy industry to develop farmer skills in grazing management. Pasture coaching involves the formation of groups of 4-6 farmers by an extension officer who takes on the role of coach for the group. A pasture coaching group meets 8-10 times over a 12 month period. An assessment of the impact of pasture coaching on grazing management skills was undertaken in 2016-17 through pre-coaching and post-coaching surveys along with one-on-one farmer interviews. Pasture coaching resulted in practice change with more people undertaking best management practices including calculating average pasture cover and cow requirements and determining leaf stage. Not only did more people implement some of these best management practices but there was also an increased frequency that these practices were undertaken throughout the course of the pasture coaching program.
Sam joined the University of Tasmania as a professional staff member in 2016 after graduating from her Bachelor of Agriculture in 2015. She has undertook a large amount of work in the extension space as part of the Dairy On PAR Project which is jointly funded by Dairy Australia and TIA, her involvement in pasture coaching groups has been part of this project. Her key areas of expertise are pasture management and extension – working with farmer groups to help improve farmer profitability.