SHEEP projects researching crop-livestock integration, total grazing pressure, internal parasite and disease management will be funded by Meat & Livestock Australia with $9.4 million in levy funds.
MLA today announced 18 newly-funded projects for the sheep meat and grass-fed beef sectors in 2016/17 — the first projects to be generated from direct producer input via its new regional consultation model.
The research, development and adoption projects address a range of issues within industry priority areas including animal health and welfare, feedbase, farm systems, and capacity building. The priorities were identified by producers through 18 regional committees as well as the North Australia Beef Research Council (NABRC), the Southern Australia Meat Research Council (SAMRC), and the Western Australia Livestock Research Council (WALRC).
Sheep projects cover a range of industry priorities
Addressing the sheep nematode-climate strategy gap
Designing farm specific nematode control programs for sheep will be the aim of a University of New England project. A MLA review of existing sheep nematode models found that individually and combined, existing models cannot adequately evaluate integrated parasite control strategies under a range of climate change scenarios. This proposal seeks to address this gap.
Disease control feedback from the processor
Maffra-based Herd Health will trial an automated endemic disease investigation service for sheep producers. The project aims to create a tool to assist producers analysing and interpreting Livestock Data Link (LDL) data to make better business decisions. Researchers will develop a tool to estimate the cost benefit of improving disease control on-farm, helping producers identify whether it is profitable to implement a prevention or treatment strategy for certain diseases on their farm.
Barber’s Pole worm DNA test
A CSIRO project will develop a DNA-based test for monitoring drench resistance and movement of Barber’s Pole worm. The test will utilise a genome-wide collection of neutral markers to detect changes in worm populations on farms, to detect farm-to-farm migration and genetic changes in parasite resistance.
Managing total grazing pressure in rangelands
Development of a research, development and adoption investment plan for total grazing pressure management in southern Australian rangelands will be the aim of a NSW Department of Primary Industries project.
Total grazing pressure management is challenging because of non-domestic herbivores such as feral goats and kangaroos and the project proposes to form a coalition of producers, researchers, extension agencies, policy makers and NRM bodies across four states to review current knowledge and identify information gaps for TGP management. NSW DPI will also look at developing messages from industry to community to ensure pest animal management can continue.
Crop-livestock integration investment plan
An investment plan for future research, development and adoption that better integrates cropping and livestock into mixed farming enterprises is the aim of a Charles Sturt University project. In a separate project, South Australian grain marketing and agricultural consultancy firm Rural Directions will seek to determine how profitability of mixed farming systems can be optimised through synergies between cropping and livestock enterprises.
Modelling livestock and pasture adaption
A University of Melbourne team will explore the modelling of profitability and resilience through novel livestock and pasture adaptation to future climates. The project aims to identify adaptation options to increase profitability of sheep meat and beef grazing systems under a range of climate challenges.
A Leg Up
Victorian-based agricultural consultancy Meridian Agriculture will undertake a proposal focussing on new graduates already working in the red meat and livestock industry, to increase their knowledge through mentoring with experienced professionals.
Work underway on MLA’s 2017-18 RD&A priorities
MLA’s General Manager – Producer Consultation and Adoption, Michael Crowley, said MLA received 185 preliminary project proposals, and a thorough review process of those projects was established.
“After review by Northern, Southern and Western Producer Panels and MLA, 42 preliminary proposals were found to best address the 2016-17 RD&A priorities, describe producer benefits at a regional and national level, and cost-effectively outline ways to deliver on industry RD&A plans.
“Based on those 42 preliminary proposals, 34 full proposals were invited and subsequently assessed by an independent panel of technical experts, chaired by internationally-renowned livestock researcher Professor Alan Bell.
“After expert review, 28 full proposals were re-assessed by the Red Meat Panel, to arrive at the final 18.”
The Red Meat Panel consists of the chair and a producer member of each of NABRC and SAMRC, two producer members of WALRC, a representative from the Cattle Council of Australia and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and two MLA general managers. Mr Crowley said work is already underway on identifying the 2017-18 RD&A priorities through the regional consultation producer forums being held throughout Australia this year.
A list of the 18 approved RD&A projects can be found here.