27 Jul 2012
By Louise Preece for Stock & Land       

Opportunities are fast emerging on the Australian fodder scene.

These export and domestic market trends will be hot on the list of topics at the National Fodder Conference, to be held in Hobart, Tasmania, on August 6-7.

Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) industry development officer Nick McClelland says a range of expert speakers are on the conference agenda, as well as research and development news.

“There is a lot going on in the fodder industry at the moment,” he said. 

“We’ve got export markets developing, with increased markets for Australian export hay into China and the Middle East.”

On the domestic market, hay contractors and producers will also benefit from a growing demand for hay into the dairying region of south-west Victoria.

“We’ve seen high demand there for eight months now,” Mr McClelland said.

“It was a dry spring and they had a very late autumn break. 

“When the grass did come – it didn’t grow abundantly, so producers need plenty of hay now.”

He said lucerne hay had been travelling from Forbes all the way to western Victoria. 

“Prices for hay have increased from $80 to $100 a tonne during the past 10 months – and that makes a difference,” he said.

Hay conservation will continue to be at the forefront of people’s minds, as they come out of a tough season, he said.

On the research front, Mr McClelland said longer-growing varieties had been trialled that did not come into head until later in the season when weather conditions were more favourable for curing hay.

The conference agenda will also cover feed testing, as well as working with contracts to reduce incidents of conflicts.

One of the highlights will be Chris Wilcox, who runs a business called Zeachem in Oregon that produces Ethanol from straw and hay. 

“He will be talking about his new pilot plant and how it utilises straw and weather damaged hay,” he said. 

“People will be interested to see how a project like that could work in Australia.”

Panel discussions with industry leaders will also provide practical tips for making fodder, while an open forum will be held on each day when members will share their experiences of hay and silage production.

A trade tour will boast 30 sites, including companies that manufacture products such as twine and inoculant.

A pre-conference tour will also visit several Tasmanian farms, including the Ashgrove Cheese factory and a lucerne chaff mill that makes product for the equine industry.

Delegates will also learn about the Cape Grim Beef marketing program. 

“It will give a real snapshot of what is happening on the Tasmanian agricultural scene,” he said.