Dairy Futures: Living Lab
Exploring future dairy farming
THE LIVING LAB
The Living Lab is a teaching and research initiative designed to explore future dairy farming options which meet the environmental, social and economic challenges facing today and tomorrow’s farmers.
The ‘Future Dairy: Living Lab’ consists of two mini farms or farmlets (currently 12 ha each) within the larger LURDF. Both farmlets have strategic goals to reduce inputs and improve recycling of nutrients and reduce waste whilst maintaining or improving profitability. The farmlets have established a future need to enhance the landscape and promote biodiversity and resilience in soils, plants, animals and people and to reflect the values of New Zealanders. The two farmlets have adopted either a conventional best practice approach (Best Now) or alternative future design approach (Dairy Future) to achieve these outcomes. Decision rules on both farms apply science based principles or, where the science is limited, test new approaches and measure the outcomes.
Some of the science on which the strategies are based is still emerging (Dairy Future), while other practices are well established (Dairy Now). Students, researchers and public and private enterprises are encouraged to engage with the initiative to propose, test and monitor ideas and solutions which solve real world problems on a platform which allows for monitoring and extension of those outcomes. Current resources for the Living Laboratory include 24 hectare of irrigated, silt loam soil which has been subdivided into two farms, see our strategy page to find out what practises the farmlets are applying. In the very first season starting in July 2018, 80 Holstein Friesian x Jersey cross dairy cows were selected and paired using matching age, breed, live weight and milk production variables and assigned to one of the two farmlets. We track and report their progress in regular farm walk notes and publications.