Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) opened its gates on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 November to more than 900 visitors, showcasing the operations of a commercial dairy farm and giving the public an opportunity to learn about the transformation of sunshine into food.
Friday was a schools only day which saw approximately 350 Year 9 and 10 students from nine secondary schools arrive in a range of vans and buses (including an old double decker bus) to be immediately taken on a guided tour of the science and business of dairy farming.
School finishing times meant there was a quick view of milking at 2.30pm before departing, but not before the effects of a hot nor’wester were alleviated by a round of ice-creams.
Although Saturday’s general public day was met with more moderate weather, there was still a steady supply of free dairy products on hand for sampling; such as a range of cheeses, yoghurt and more ice-cream.
Visitors were given an overview of the multifaceted world of modern dairy farming; such as photosynthesis, soil types, irrigation, pastures, cows, milking, and the important aspect of collecting and processing milk for export to international markets.
“The purpose of the open days are to connect visitors with the transformation of ‘sunshine into food’ and answer their questions regarding the science and technology of producing milk on farm,” says Ron Pellow, Executive Director of SIDDC.
“We started the LUDF Farm Open Day last year and added a specific event for secondary schools this year. Visitors often want to view cows being milked, so we’re pleased our proximity to Christchurch enables us to give this opportunity on an annual basis. At the same time we can enhance their connection to where and how our food is produced,” he says.
Overall the organisers were pleased with the attendance.
The 160 hectare, 560 cow Lincoln University Dairy Farm is operated by the South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) and is run as a fully-commercial demonstration farm, showcasing best practice dairy farming. SIDDC is itself a partnership between seven key New Zealand organisations involved in South Island dairying: Lincoln University, DairyNZ, Ravensdown, LIC, Plant & Food Research, AgResearch and SIDE.
“LUDF operates as both a demonstration farm for other farmers, and a commercial entity. We also have the stated aim to increase productivity on the farm without increasing the farm’s overall environmental footprint. This makes the information that comes out of SIDDC very relevant for farmers and the farm itself the perfect place to open up to the public to show how it all fits together,” says Ron.