At a glance
Who: Jon Ryan
What: Dairy farm, milking 360 cows on 500 acres
Where: Denison, just outside of Heyfield (Vic)
Can you tell us about your property?
We are a 1st Generation family farm and we employ a bit of family labour, as well as additional team members. My wife, Lauren, has her own vet business.
We aim to farm without losses, and this includes more than just an economic focus. We avoid carbon and nutrient losses and don’t use large amounts of soluble fertilizers any longer, which also result in losses.
What first got you thinking about climate change?
We had several years of drought and years of our financial performance being battered around. We were not resilient enough for the way we wanted to farm. This has led to ongoing education and changes on farm. This includes investment into technologies to improve animal health outcomes and strategic use of antibiotics and wormers.
Do you use renewable energy on your farm? What are the benefits?
We have solar and are about to install battery. We will also increase our solar into the future. This is used to run our dairy, water pumps, and general operation.
Solar saves us money. The energy market is changing, and we are exporting quite a bit back to the grid. We found that the energy infrastructure was not efficient and so we have looked for a way to minimise waste and benefit. This has allowed us to create a circular economy. Energy is going to cost more, and we are looking at these investments in the current circumstances rather than into the future. We need to be focused on ‘kilowatts used’ efficiency rather than simply ‘cost efficiency’. Ultimately, we shouldn’t be waiting for things to be ‘right’.
If you could send a message about climate change to the Federal Government (in 50 words or less) what would it be?
The solutions at the moment are expensive and require investment. However, the cost of not doing anything is far greater. Politicians are so uncertain of what to do and there is no one clear solution. As members of the community, we need to recognise the difficulty that the politicians are in to deliver a solution but keep people happy. Ultimately, we need to be politically engaged and support our politicians to solve the issue of climate change.