Dairy Australia Technology Assessment Scheme

01/12/21 01:42 PM Comment(s) By FIAL

Dairy Australia | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2021 

The Dairy Australia Technology Assessment (DATA) scheme provides Australian dairy processors with financial assistance to assess commercial viability of new technologies or practices. Co- funded by DA, FIAL and the processors themselves, the DATA scheme aims to reduce business risk and accelerate technology uptake. 

The Dairy Australia (DA) objective is to support the profitability and sustainability of dairy farming. Funded by a combination of member levies and matched Commonwealth Government payments for eligible R&D activities, DA works with levy payers and other stakeholders to understand their needs and to shape investment priorities. 

The organisation provides practical tools, services and advice to assist farming operations and the dairy supply chain. Investments in innovation are focused on increasing farm productivity and the global competitiveness of the Australian dairy industry and activities include attracting people to the industry, building skills, providing insights, informing policy formation and trade relations, promoting the benefits of dairy to consumers and meeting community expectations on issues such as environmental impact and animal welfare. 

Ian Olmstead is Program Manager for Manufacturing Innovation & Sustainability at DA. He seeks to ensure that Australian dairy farmers have access to a globally competitive processing sector with strong sustainability credentials. When he discovered both DA and FIAL offered similar programs, he suggested partnering to produce a dedicated dairy industry scheme. 

The Dairy Australia Technology Assessment (DATA) scheme looks to support pilot trials and desktop studies to help companies understand the true cost of the solution under consideration. The co-funding model lessens the up-front cash requirement from applicants, a welcome advantage in circumstances where achieving internal capital approval is difficult. 

The program favours projects that seek to assess technologies with the capacity to improve sector performance in manufacturing-based targets under the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s Sustainability Framework including: reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste to landfill, as well as dairy packaging targets of 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable material by 2025 or earlier. 

DATA formally commenced in late 2019 and projects have included R&D to: 1) increase the level of food-grade recycled plastic in packaging materials; 2) develop and test smart sensor networks to optimise processing; 3) optimise wastewater treatment for nutrient reuse and bioenergy production; 4) trial new packaging lines which reduce energy use and waste production; and 5) assess renewable energy alternatives to improve cost-efficiency in milk powder manufacturing. 

The goal of the DATA scheme is to improve Australian dairy manufacturing margins, enhance returns to farmers and advance the sustainable profitability of the broader Australian dairy industry. Remaining at the forefront of technological innovation is the mechanism by which that objective can be met, and a natural consequence of collaborative efforts like the DA and FIAL partnership, which inherently shortens the feedback loop between technology entering the market and being tested by the end user.