Water vital to dairy industry, says farmer

By Alana Christensen

With decades of experience in the dairy industry and currently milking 750 cows in a fully computerised dairy, Russell Pell has seen a lot of changes.

From the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to the uncoupling of land and water rights, Mr Pell said water had never been more important to farmers.

‘‘Securing water for your future is really important ... we’re constantly challenged with what we can grow for a megalitre of water,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d hate to think about what would have happened now if we hadn’t modernised our system.’’

The Wyuna dairy farmer was speaking at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Regional Outlook conference in Shepparton on Wednesday, October 10.

As water became more scarce, Mr Pell said he placed more emphasis on getting the most out of his water and had turned to producing maize, along with a number of other crops.

With his maize getting close to four tonnes of dry matter per megalitre, Mr Pell said he also saw his best annual pastures achieve similar results.

But he said it hadn’t been easy.

‘‘It’s very hard for the average guy to do all this. As an area we really are reliant on dairy,’’ he said.

With every million litres of milk employing six people across northern Victoria, Mr Pell said a prosperous dairy industry was a win for all.

With predictable conditions increasingly being experienced across the country, Mr Pell said the changing weather and climate change was increasingly taking a hold.

‘‘In a short span of time it’s changed so much and we’re going to have to live with it.’’