Katanning Office and Katanning Research Station

Page last updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2022 - 8:40am

Katanning is a key location for DPIRD's livestock, soils and plant research in the Great Southern of WA . The Katanning Research Station (KRS) east of town is predominantly a sheep research facility and expands more than 2000ha with approximately 1575ha arable for cropping and grazing. The Field Research Support Unit facilitates the delivery of our world class research by the timely and accurate implementation of research programs within the surrounding districts. The research teams at Katanning Office, in town, focus on broadacre crop R&D. 

Research

Katanning Research Station (KRS) is a sheep, pasture and cropping research hub in WA. It showcases the digital agriculture technologies and the management systems that will lift productivity and lower greenhouse gas emissions from mixed farming operations in Western Australia. Research includes:

  • Genetics (breeding values) of feed intake efficiency in sheep.
  • Impact of feed supplements and forage combinations on methane production of sheep.
  • Evaluation of a range of novel pasture species with the aim of developing livestock systems of green feed all year round.
  • Saltland rehabilitation program (surface water management, groundwater drainage, planting of native trees/shrubs/saltbush/perennial grasses) to halt and reverse salinity on the research station and provide out-of-season feed.
  • Management and monitoring of the National Genetic Resource Sheep Flock; a genetic research resource for difficult to measure traits such as feed intake efficiency.
  • More than 20 years of involvement in the national sire evaluation program managed by Australian Merino Sire Evaluation Association (AMSEA). Staff at the Katanning Research Station manage the ‘Yardstick’ flock in partnership with industry.

The team of research scientists and technical officers at Katanning town office focus on field and laboratory experiments on applied grains and farming systems for broadacre crops and resource management. Research focuses on:

  • Cereal agronomy – phenology of germplasm for adaptation to earlier (and later) sowing opportunities and timing crop development to avoid frost
  • Nutrient dynamics of crop sequences to monitor nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium crop nutrition and develop crop management decision making tool.

Facilities

Research Station

Katanning Research Station is 8km east of town and opened in 1982. Soils range from light deep sand to gravel over clay and light clay and it has the capacity to run 7500 sheep. Onsite R&D staff are highly trained in intensive measurement and observation of livestock. All facilities and laboratories are bio-secure and fitted with amenities to control and minimise potential biosecurity risks.

LoRaWAN (Low Power, Long Range Wide Area Network) ‘smart farm’ network installed across the site, complete with a smart farming hub allowing for 24/7 monitoring of livestock and the surrounding property. Ten soil moisture sensors, three mobile weather stations along with a station connected to the Bureau of Meteorology network. Silo monitors, gate sensors and water tank sensors are part of a farm wide network. A central command centre monitors the site and demonstrates how the technology can be integrated into farm businesses.

  • Animal house with 160 individual pens for collecting methane measurements
  • 50 paddocks (from 2-50 hectares) – including 67 one-hectare lambing plots with water and feed troughs and moveable straw bale windbreak
  • Sheep yards and two shearing sheds
  • A range of silos for grain and pellets, large hay storage shed
  • Range of mechanical sheep handling devices
  • Trucks with stock crates and feed trailers
  • Meat processing facility and cool room and freezers
  • Standard commercial broadacre cropping farm machinery and fully mobile small research-plot gear.

Katanning Sheep Feed Intake Facility

  • The Sheep Feed Intake Facility (SFIF) opened in 2022.
  • It is a 940 square metre facility that can hold a maximum of 300 animals, the biggest of its kind in Australia. 
  • The SFIF is set up to house 20 pens of sheep (up to 15 per pen). Sheep are sociable animals, so having them housed in groups is best practice.
  • It also features a semi-controlled environment, including technology to continuously monitor temperature, air quality, air flow and wind speed, as well as an automated feed delivery system digitally controlled via Bluetooth.
  • The automated feed delivery system is the first of its kind in Australia to be used in sheep research. This system is custom built and can blend diets from four different sources with the capability to allocate different diets to each pen. The feed delivery system feeds into custom feeder units which automatically weigh individual feed intake from the sheep by scanning the RFID tag as the sheep approaches the feeder unit to eat. The combined capability to blend and weigh diets for 300 sheep through an automated system significantly increases the research capability through labour and resourcing efficiencies as well as performing individual feed intake trials in group pens allowing the sheep to express more sociable behaviours.
  • The SFIF has state-of-the-art portable accumulation chambers, which are used to measure the methane emissions of individual sheep.
  • A new dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, (DEXA) machine to objectively measure meat, bone and fat composition of the live animal to measure changes in body composition over time.

Town Office

  • Glasshouse with three separate air-conditioned sections
  • Sheds and dirty labs to receive, store and process plant, grain and soil samples collected from research trials across southern WA grain growing regions. Controlled environment storage areas to maintain plant and grain samples.
  • Drying ovens: one walk-in, two wall ovens and range of benchtop ovens
  • Walk-in cool room
  • Offices for research team and conference room capacity for 65 people.

Co-locators

Katanning Landcare and the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions.

Contact

For more information on the facilities and R&D opportunities available at the Katanning Research Station please contact:

P: +61 1300 374 731 (1300 DPIRD1) or +61 (0)8 9821 3333
E: enquiries@dpird.wa.gov.au

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