Regional staff showcase DAF’s unrivalled position in beef research and extension
The latest findings in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ broad beef research and extension portfolio were presented by 11 Animal Science staff from five offices at the 33rd Australian Association of Animal Sciences conference from 1-3 February 2021.
Beef extension officer, Kylie Hopkins, said the conference was virtual due to COVID-19 but several states hosted ‘hubs’ for regional animal scientists and industry professionals.
“Lindsey Perry, Eloise Moir, Megan Munchenberg, Kieran Smith and myself travelled to the Brisbane hub which was a great opportunity to build professional networks, especially for the junior extension staff,” Kylie said. “In animal extension, there’s a strong focus on upskilling extension staff and a culture of maintaining the publishing records of principal scientists. The presence of regional extension staff was also a great reminder for scientists that there is still a conduit for research in the regions.”
Collaborative project partners at the hub included Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Central Queensland University (CQU) and private industry.
Beef extension officer Lindsey Perry said the regional staff who attended the Brisbane Hub would like to acknowledge Dr Maree Bowen who co-authored the papers they presented.
“Maree led the key projects while involving and developing junior staff ensuring their contribution in regional science,” Lindsey said.
“We’re fortunate to have the mentorship, high calibre scientific discourse, collaborative development and publishing opportunities available to young research and extension staff. For Eloise, Megan and Kieran, this was the first time an abstract had been submitted for a scientific conference and been accepted for presentation as an oral or poster.”
The large body of multi-disciplinary work in the Drought and Climate Adaptation Project’s (DCAP) ‘Delivering integrated production and economic knowledge and skills to improve drought management outcomes for grazing enterprises’ provided material for five presentations by project team members, including one full length journal paper by Dr Maree Bowen and four one-page papers.
Lindsey Perry, Eloise Moir and Megan Munchenberg from DCAP’s GrazingFutures project presented key elements of the Northern Downs and Northern Gulf economic analysis. This included the economics of optimal age of turnoff in the variable rainfall environment of the Mitchell Grass Downs, prickly acacia control, and an objective look at molasses feeding for the steer tail in marginal country.
Kieran Smith presented an ePoster based on some of his honours project work (from UNE) with sheep grazing preference. The e-posters were a highlight of the event with a live Q&A session that was a great opportunity for first-time conference goers to practise among friendly colleagues.
Kylie Hopkins presented the High Output Forages (HOF) project (circa 2014) on the grazing habits of cattle on leucaena-grass pastures in response to seasonal conditions and pasture quality. The HOF project is one of the most comprehensive data sets analysing the performance of forages in northern Australia and has provided many insights into the management and economic performance of beef cattle forage systems.
Kylie was also invited to participate in a live panel discussion around a keynote paper on ‘the changing face of animal production science in Australia.’
Several papers were presented by the DAF Rumen Ecology group around the biochemistry of toxic compound simplexin in Pimelea as well as new Leucaena inoculum work. Diane Ouwerkerk and Ros Gilbert attended the Brisbane Hub.
Virtually, members of the Pasture Dieback team, Stuart Buck and Nick Brazier, presented two one-page papers that summarised DAF’s work in documenting the resurgence of pasture dieback in Queensland and the characterisation of affected sites.
Nicole Sallur from the Charleville DAF office discussed the value of FutureBeef as an e-extension tool.
In the contemporary landscape where research centres are often disconnected from extension services, the conference (both virtually and in person) is an excellent conduit to upskill on research findings and progress in the animal sciences.
Attending staff encourage others to look at ways to be involved with the Queensland Branch of AAAS and contribute the high-quality DAF work at the 2022 conference in Cairns.
Written by Kylie Hopkins and Lindsey Perry