PhD scholarship in virtual fencing

SUBSCRIBE to our fortnightly email newsletter to receive more stories like this. Cows in a paddock: Apply now for this PhD scholarship in virtual fencing project at The University of Sydney's Dairy Research Foundation near Camden, New South Wales and be a part of cutting-edge livestock research.

The commercial competitiveness of Australia’s dairy industry depends heavily on establishing new technologies to better manage and feed cows, enabling farmers to maximise productivity. 

One technology with the power to transform our dairy industry – and the wider livestock sector – is virtual fencing (VT).

With this in mind, The University of Sydney, leaders in agricultural technology, are funding a new post-graduate scholarship with the Dairy Science Group, based at the University’s Dairy Research Foundation just outside of Camden, New South Wales.

The Foundation coordinates a program of basic and applied research at the cutting edge of dairy science and production and extension activities that help disseminate the resulting information among dairy farmers across Australia.

The scholarship recipient will join a $2.6 million Dairy Australia-helmed project funded under Round 2 of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Rural R&D for Profit initiative, on which The University of Sydney’s Dairy Science Group is one of several contributing research institutions including Dairy Australia, CSIRO, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of New England (UNE) and University of Melbourne (UoM).Dairy cows at University of Tasmania's dairy farm facility: UTas researchers are also a part of the VF project.

The aims of the project, ‘Enhancing the profitability and productivity of livestock farming through virtual herding technology’, are to:

  • evaluate the on-farm application of VF technology;
  • demonstrate the effective implementation of VF tech; and
  • quantify and extend its benefits across Australia’s major livestock industries.

“The successful PhD candidate will work closely with farmers and key scientists, both domestic and international, to investigate the application of VF for optimised sub-herd and individual animal management for dairy and beef,” the University states.

“The outcomes of the project have the potential to improve grazing management and environmental impact.”Tom Darcy, manager of the state-of-the-art robotic dairy at University of Melbourne's Dookie Campus; UoM is part of the virtual fencing project.

What does the scholarship provide?

A fully funded PhD scholarship of AU$30,000 will be provided to the successful applicant.

Students who have already applied for or been awarded APAs are encouraged to apply; the project will offer a top-up of AU$10,000 for APA applicants.

The scholarship also comes with provision for operating expenses. Note, however, that tuition fees are not covered. 

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the Dairy Science Group VF scholarship, you must have an undergraduate degree in Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine and/or Animal Science or a related degree, and a solid understanding of grazing (pasture-based) dairy farming systems and animal behaviour.

International graduates with the relevant qualifications are also eligible to apply.

Apply by 20 February

Send your application direct to Be sure to include your current curriculum vitae (resume), a copy of your academic transcript, and the names and contact details of at least two referees. 

Don’t muck about, however: the closing date for applications is 20 February 2017.

Get further information

For more information, contact Dr Sabrina Lomax from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at The University of Sydney on +61 2 9351 5138 or

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