At the Dookie Campus farm estate, work is underway with partners in industry, government and the community to help meet the challenge of food security.
Dookie’s broadacre farm is home to crops including 220 hectares of canola and 430 hectares of wheat, and 5000 merinos pastured on 1200 hectares of clover, lucerne and phalaris. The broadacre farm is a valuable resource for food security and climate change adaptation research and teaching.
Current research on the broadacre farm includes:
- A carbon flux tower to measure greenhouse gas emissions related to pastures and crops
- Microwave control of weeds in cropping systems
Our ultra-modern dairy comprises robotic milking machines, milking shed and feeding systems with capacity for 180 cows. The new shed has been draped with solar panels to produce 30 kilowatts of electricity, which is about half the three-stall robot's needs.
A 250,000 litre rainwater tank take care of vat cleaning, and water from the dairy drains into a closed loop of settling ponds to allow for maximal recycling.
The 43 hectares of irrigated pastures are also automated with solar-powered moisture probes calibrated to produce optimum growth using the least amount of water.
Research at the facility will include optimising animal nutrition, maximising welfare, modifying behaviour and stock management, and securing water efficiencies in operations.
The improvements are part of a $5 million investment in Dookie’s farm, ensuring the greater Dookie campus remains the leading agricultural educational facility in Victoria.
Established in the late 1970s, the Dookie orchard is home to three hectares of Pink Lady apples. Located on the southern slopes of Mount Major, the orchard is a valuable resource for food security and climate change adaptation research and teaching.
Recent research at the orchard within a major water efficiency study, Farms, Rivers and Markets, developed innovative automated irrigation technologies for apricots, apples and wine grapes.
Researchers found that automation technology has great potential to optimise horticulture and viticulture irrigation, using water measurement techniques such as crop evapotranspiration, crop water stress index, and soil moisture depletion.
The Dookie farm is a living laboratory for studies delivered at Dookie including, the Diploma in General Studies, undergraduate breadth studies, the Bachelor of Agriculture, research degrees, and single subject studies through the University of Melbourne’s Community Access Program (CAP).