Few people know more about making hay and silage than NSW consultant, Neil Griffiths. On a rare visit to Western Australia, the co-author of the ‘Successful Silage’ manual recently trained 24 farm advisors as part of a project funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.
South West NRM, as the Regional Node Lead for the South-West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, assisted the Western Beef Association in designing this priority project for the region which focuses on improving the production and use of hay and silage.
Using a ‘train the trainer’ model, Neil passed on his knowledge to the farm advisors at a three-day workshop. Advisors will now work with local farmers in a series of one-day workshops throughout WA in September and October.
Neil explained how he delivers the course to farmers by first talking about how and where they can use silage before discussing how to make it:
“I always start with the feeding end of the program. I want to be very clear on when, how and where I’m going to use it and then work backwards to how much I need, how to store it, how to make it and whether I’m going to use contractors.”
He’s been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the course by revisiting past participants to assess whether they have adopted and sustained practice changes:
“About 80% of people had adopted and actually changed something and reckoned it was better, so that was pretty encouraging. One producer said they had buried some silage every year in pits across his property as a drought reserve. After a two-year drought, he still had silage left, highlighting the value of silage production for drought resilience.”
Local silage advisor, Dario Nandapi, said he benefited from the workshop by going through case studies and discussing the implications for WA producers with other advisors:
“The case studies provoked discussion, which is what we want from our farmers, so it’s more about how to teach farmers and what they want to get out of it rather than what I want to get out of it.”
The one-day farmer workshops are designed for 12-18 participants at a fee of $55 per person, which includes the Successful Silage manual, meals for the day and a voucher to have a hay or silage sample analysed.
To find out more, contact Jeisane Accioly at Western Beef Association on 0403 327 216.