News / Blog

NZ Southern Dairy Hub Has Found A Home
February 18, 2016

The Southern Dairy Hub has found a home after a lengthy search for the perfect property.  Southern Dairy Hub chairman Maurice Hardie said the $26.5 million Southland research and development dairying centre is closer to being realised after a conditional agreement was reached on two properties, pending satisfaction from both parties.

“This is an important milestone in our plan to build a facility that is a partnership between local farmers, DairyNZ and AgResearch; the new farm will enable local dairy farming issues to be researched on southern soils in southern conditions.  “The agreements are however subject to considerable due diligence by ourselves and one of the vendors.”  The location of the site is yet to be released, but Hardie confirmed it was in southern central Southland and was made up from two adjoinging farms with two road frontages.  Due diligence may take up to 180 days allowing time for the completion of the necessary resource consenting, design, planning and business case models to be approved by all of the investors.  “We’re not going to end up with a farm that we can’t farm.”  As confidence in the site built, the group would begin committing to specific designs, he said.

The aim is to have the facility completed by June 1, 2017, with development to begin on the properties in October 2016, Hardie said.  The Southern Dairy Hub is a collaborative project being developed by AgResearch, DairyNZ and the Southern Dairy Development Trust.  More than $1.3 million was pledged by 503 southern farmers, after a call was put out by the trust to pledge $2m for the project to get the green light in early 2015.  The completed hub will allow for dairy farmer-led and local issues to be researched on southern soils in southern conditions.  The Trust began actively searching for properties from October 2014.

Finding a suitable site had taken a lot longer than anticipated due the specific requirements of the hub which include locality, scale and a balance of soils that reflect the farms in the region to ensure research and demonstration was relevant, Hardie said.  The Southern Dairy Hub will include a 300-380ha dairy farm with four comparative herds of about 200 cows each, as well as buildings for research, demonstration, education and farmer meetings.  To meet the requirements of the hub, the farm needed to be self-contained and big enough to support not only the milking platform but also be suitable for rearing young stock and wintering.

Trustees wanted the hub to have a variety of soil types to allow regionally-appropriate research, as well as a being located in central Southland, within 30 minutes of the Invercargill Airport.  Finding all of the attributes on one property had been challenging, Hardie said.  “While there is still some work to done, we are a lot closer to making the Southern Dairy Hub a reality thanks to the commitment from local dairy farmers, the Southland Agribusiness community, DairyNZ and AgResearch.”

By: Brittany Pickett
Source: NZFarmer.conz


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