Woolworths is inviting dairy farmers around Australia to apply for grants as the supermarket giant looks to foster innovation in the sector.
In the inaugural round of grants in June, the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund handed out more than $2 million to 24 dairy farmers across the country. Any farmer in the Woolworths supply chain – including those supplying vendor-branded products – can seek grants of up to $100,000 each. Over three funding rounds – June’s, the current one and another to come – $5 million is on offer.
The grants are designed to support on-farm projects that deliver innovation, efficiency and seasonal resilience. June’s round supported projects including solar-powered desalination, milk sensor technology, fodder infrastructure, sustainability improvements, enhanced bushfire protection, and dairy automation.
An example of the innovations being funded by the company is one to Lisa Dwyer and her husband Eddie (pictured above) from Punrim in Victoria who have fitted herd-monitoring collars to their 400 cows, a move she describes as the “biggest game changer in her time in dairy”.
The Dwyers supply milk to Fonterra and employ a team of six. In the six months since they introduced the collars, she has already seen benefits including the early detection of illness and heat, which has improved animal welfare and breeding, boosted production and reduced costs.
“We’ve seen first-hand the benefits technology can bring to our business, our people and most importantly, our animals, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the Woolworths Dairy Innovation Fund,” said Lisa Dwyer.
“While our industry’s past has largely been driven by commodity exports, our future will be driven by a transition to high-value agricultural production – and that can only be achieved through clever and compelling technological innovation.”
Woolworths dairy merchandise manager Will Herron said that with improved conditions over recent seasons, future-focussed farmers are investing in technology and infrastructure to build resilient businesses that can prosper through seasonal challenges in the years ahead.
“We want to partner with farmers to help create the farms of the future that will continue to deliver quality dairy to Australians for generations to come.
“We’ve already seen the strength of ambition across Australian dairy farms in the first round of the fund and we look forward to backing another crop of innovative and impactful projects in this round.”