Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Perspectives on animal research and its application

J. L. Black
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

John L Black Consulting, PO Box 4021, Warrimoo, NSW 2774, Australia. Email: jblack@pnc.com.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15793
Submitted: 10 November 2015  Accepted: 9 April 2016   Published online: 15 June 2016

Abstract

Return on investment from animal research in Australia is about half that from investment in crop research. Return on investment in animal research and its application could be enhanced by improving (1) selection of areas for research, (2) application of existing knowledge and (3) adherence to the scientific method. (1) The flat response curve in outputs to changing inputs around the optimum for most agricultural systems means that research investments must be directed towards new technologies rather than refining existing technologies. New technologies have been responsible for advances in all human endeavours. Many new technologies are derived from curiosity research, but processes can also be adopted to identify specific industry-related research priorities. These processes include statistical analysis of historical data, critical evaluation of factors limiting enterprise productivity and profitability, and application of simulation models. These methods can identify changes in industry practice that would have marked effects on productivity. A thorough review of the literature is needed to determine whether the change could be achieved through adoption of existing knowledge or whether new research is required. (2) Adoption of existing knowledge is frequently poor because of the way it is presented to enterprise managers and the perceived risks from changing practices. A method is described to improve adoption, while controlling the risks associated with higher productivity. The method targets the correct and consistent application of a small number of farm practices, which, if not undertaken precisely, would have a major impact on productivity or sustainability. Application of the method has been highly successful in improving enterprise productivity and profitability. However, these improvements tend to wane over time because of the rigour involved and monotony associated with repeated actions. Sustained improvements in productivity should come in the future as more electronic-based technologies are employed to take essential measurements, interpret the information collected and automatically control systems through real-time processing. (3) Other contributors to a poor return on research investment are lack of strict adherence to the scientific method, inadequate experimental design and insufficient application of statistics.

Additional keywords: investment in science, knowledge adoption, new technologies, productivity, real-time processing, risk-control, scientific method.


References

Alcock DJ, Hegarty RS (2011) Potential effects of animal management and genetic improvement on enteric methane emissions, emissions intensity and productivity of sheep at Cowra, Australia. Animal Feed Science and Technology 166–167, 749–760.
Potential effects of animal management and genetic improvement on enteric methane emissions, emissions intensity and productivity of sheep at Cowra, Australia.CrossRef |

Alston JM, Marra MC, Pardey PG, Wyatt TJ (2000) Research returns redux: a meta-analysis of the returns to agricultural R&D. The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 44, 185–215.
Research returns redux: a meta-analysis of the returns to agricultural R&D.CrossRef |

Anon. (2012) ‘Size matters.’ Available at http://knowinnovation.com/2012/01/size-matters/; and http://www.true-north.be/TRUENORTH-methodology-paper.pdf [Verified 23 May 2016]

Aubry C, Galan MB, Maze A (2005) HACCP methodology and quality/environmental specifications for crop farms. Implications for the design of good agricultural practices guidelines. Cahiers Agricultures 14, 313–322.

Banhazi TM, Lehr H, Black JL, Crabtree H, Schofield P, Tscharke M, Berckmans D (2012) Precision Livestock Farming: an international review of scientific and commercial aspects. International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering 5, 1–9.

Batstone DJ, Gopalan P, Jensen PD, Tait S (2013) Review: options for anaerobic digestion of piggery waste. In ‘Manipulating pig production XIV’. (Eds JR Pluske, J Pluske) pp. 261–271. ‘(Australasian Pig Science Association: Werribee, Vic.)

Berckmans D (2014) Precision livestock farming technologies for welfare management in intensive livestock systems. Scientific and Technical Review of the Office International des Epizooties 33, 189–196.
Precision livestock farming technologies for welfare management in intensive livestock systems.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BC2cbgt1Sltw%3D%3D&md5=a8d463d99e91fc2a9f5d671b20297fd9CAS |

Biddiscombe EF, Arnold GW, Scurfield G (1962) Effects of gibberellic acid on pasture and animal production in winter. Australian Journal of Agricultural Science 13, 400–413.
Effects of gibberellic acid on pasture and animal production in winter.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaF3sXhtFWitA%3D%3D&md5=85a1b46c8f2c2cb96f1fd009f987a1ffCAS |

Black JL (2002) Experiences with the successful adoption of AUSPIG by industry. Animal Production in Australia 24, 442–447.

Black JL (2006) RD&E priority setting workshop. Report. Australian Pork Limited, Canberra.

Black JL (2014) Brief history and future of animal simulation models for science and application. Animal Production Science 54, 1883–1895.
Brief history and future of animal simulation models for science and application.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2cXhvVGgsLfO&md5=ed491e66275d8af9acc434f81c6dd58aCAS |

Black J, Scott L (2002) More beef from pastures: current knowledge, adoption and research opportunities. Report. Meat and Livestock Australia, Sydney.

Black JL, Campbell RG, Williams IH, James KJ, Davies GT (1986) Simulation of energy and amino acid utilisation in the pig. Research and Development in Agriculture 3, 121–145.

Black J, Cook P, Marr G, Skirrow S, Hitchens B, Frey B (2002) Improving herd reproductive performance through recording, analysis and action. Report. Australian Pork Limited, Canberra.

Black JL, Diffey S, Nielsen SG (2016) Are animal scientists forgetting the scientific method and the essential role of statistics? Animal Production Science
Are animal scientists forgetting the scientific method and the essential role of statistics?CrossRef |

Boddey RM, Dobereiner J (1995) Nitrogen fixation associated with grasses and cereals: recent progress and perspectives for the future. Fertilizer Research 42, 241–250.
Nitrogen fixation associated with grasses and cereals: recent progress and perspectives for the future.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK28XivFWlsrw%3D&md5=bbc07265a06d90f097f20f706f16f5e7CAS |

Brosnan JT, Brosnan ME (2006) The sulphur containing amino acids: an overview. The Journal of Nutrition 136, 1636S–1640S.

Bryngelsson D, Wirsenius S, Hedenus F, Sonesson U (2016) How can the EU climate targets be met? A combined analysis of technology and demand-side changes in food and agriculture. Food Policy 59, 152–164.
How can the EU climate targets be met? A combined analysis of technology and demand-side changes in food and agriculture.CrossRef |

Cannizzo C, Gianesella M, Casella S, Giudice E, Stefani A, Coppola LM, Morgante M (2012) Vitamin B12 and homocystene levels in blood of dairy cows during subacute ruminal acidosis. Archiv fur Tierzucht 55, 219–225.

Carvalho TG, Pires E, Saraiva R, Vargas L, Bomfim AC, Ballesteros H, Baldani JI, Ferreira PCG, Hemerly AS (2014) Nitrogen fixation in grasses: gluconacetobacter activates genes in sugarcane. BioMed Central Proceedings 8, O20
Nitrogen fixation in grasses: gluconacetobacter activates genes in sugarcane.CrossRef |

Craggs R, Park J, Heubeck S (2008) Methane emissions from anaerobic ponds on a piggery and a dairy farm in New Zealand. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 142–146.
Methane emissions from anaerobic ponds on a piggery and a dairy farm in New Zealand.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1cXovVyl&md5=15a79a5d91995bfac407ebd76189e197CAS |

Cronje PB (2016) Essential role of methyl donors in animal productivity. Animal Production Science
Essential role of methyl donors in animal productivity.CrossRef |

Dairy Australia (2013) Australian Dairy Industry sustainability framework. Progress report 2013. Available at http://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/~/media/Documents/Industry%20overview/Sustainability/Australian%20Dairy%20Industry%20Sustainability%20Progress%20Report%202013_FINAL.pdf [Verified 23 May 2016]

DeAngelis KM, Sharma D, Varney R, Simmons B, Isern NG, Markillie LM, Nicora C, Norbeck AD, Taylor RC, Aldrich JT, Robinson EW (2013) Evidence supporting dissimilatory and assimilatory lignin degradation in Enterobacter lignolyticus SCF1. Frontiers in Microbiology 4, 280
Evidence supporting dissimilatory and assimilatory lignin degradation in Enterobacter lignolyticus SCF1.CrossRef | 24065962PubMed |

Denman SE, McSweeney CS (2015) The early impact of genomics and metagenomics on ruminal microbiology. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences 3, 447–465.
The early impact of genomics and metagenomics on ruminal microbiology.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2MXlvVWmu7c%3D&md5=2fc313577ce460c8d5ee1ae88bf055d6CAS | 25387109PubMed |

Downing JA, Woods TCD, Broek D, Smits RJ, Giles LR (2013) Optimal timing of oestrus induction during lactation to achieve normal farrowing performance. In ‘Manipulating pig production XIV’. (Eds JR Pluske, J Pluske) p. 164. (Australasian Pig Science Association: Werribee, Vic.)

Einstein A (1916) Strahlungs-emission und -absorption nach der Quantentheorie. Verhandlungen der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft 18, 318–323.

Eskin N, Vessey K, Tian L (2014) Research progress and perspectives of nitrogen fixing bacterium, Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, in monocot plants. International Journal of Agronomy 208383
Research progress and perspectives of nitrogen fixing bacterium, Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, in monocot plants.CrossRef |

Goddard ME, Hayes BJ (2009) Mapping genes for complex traits in domestic animals and their use in breeding programmes. Nature Reviews. Genetics 10, 381–391.
Mapping genes for complex traits in domestic animals and their use in breeding programmes.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1MXmtVKrsLw%3D&md5=b0088ace2eee47d34a2b2c0ac5ae854bCAS | 19448663PubMed |

Gray E, Jackson T, Zhao S (2011) Agricultural productivity: concepts, measurement and factors driving it: a perspective from the ABARES productivity analyses. Publication No. 10/161. Report to Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.

Hemsworth PH (2013) The role of science in improving animal welfare. In ‘Manipulating pig production XIV’. (Eds JR Pluske, J Pluske) pp. 3–16. (Australasian Pig Science Association: Werribee, Vic.)

Jacobs JA, Siegford JM (2012) Lactating dairy cows adapt quickly to being milked by an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science 95, 1575–1584.
Lactating dairy cows adapt quickly to being milked by an automatic milking system.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC38XjtFWgsbo%3D&md5=d153d6ff15e0810890cec51b1727b5c8CAS | 22365239PubMed |

Johnson T, Every A, Lamb K, Spiers J, Barlow R (2002) Level of pasture utilisation in southern Australia: a producer view. Report to Meat & Livestock Australia, Sydney.

Kingwell R, Pannell D (2005) Economic trends and drivers affecting the wheatbelt of Western Australia to 2030. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 56, 553–561.
Economic trends and drivers affecting the wheatbelt of Western Australia to 2030.CrossRef |

Landesberg P (1999) In the beginning, there were Deming and Juran. Journal for Quality and Participation 22, 59–61.

Lean IJ, Rabiee AR, Golder HM, Lloyd J (2011) Analysis of the potential to manipulate the rumen of northern beef cattle to improve performance. Report to Meat & Livestock Australia, Sydney.

Lowry JB, Kennedy PM (1996) Solubilisation of lignin in tropical grasses and legumes: effect on digestibility. Proceedings of the Australian Society of Animal Production 21, 99–102.

Lyons NA, Kerrisk KL, Garcia SC (2015) Milking permission and milking intervals in a pasture-based automatic system. Animal Production Science 55, 42–48.
Milking permission and milking intervals in a pasture-based automatic system.CrossRef |

Maiman TH (1960) Stimulated optical radiation in ruby. Nature 187, 493–494.
Stimulated optical radiation in ruby.CrossRef |

Mandal SK, Maity A (2013) Applications of laser in agriculture: a critical review. Elixir Mechanical Engineering 63, 18740–18745.

Menzies TJ (2002) Knowledge elicitation: the state of the art. In ‘Handbook of software engineering and knowledge engineering. Vol II’. (Ed. SK Chang) (World Scientific). Available at http://menzies.us/pdf/00getknow.pdf [Verified 23 May 2016]

Milward DJ, Garnett T (2010) Plenary lecture 3: food and the planet: nutritional dilemmas of greenhouse gas emission reductions through reduced intakes of meat and dairy foods. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 69, 103–108.
Plenary lecture 3: food and the planet: nutritional dilemmas of greenhouse gas emission reductions through reduced intakes of meat and dairy foods.CrossRef |

MLA (2004) More beef from pastures: the producer’s manual. Meat & Livestock Australia, Sydney.

MLA (2015) More meat, milk and wool, less methane. Meat & Livestock Australia, Sydney. Available at https://www.google.com.au/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=more%20meat%20milk%20and%20wool%20less%20methane [Verified 13 April 2016]

Moore AD, Donnelly JR, Freer M (1997) GRAZPLAN: decision support systems for Australian grazing enterprises. III. Pasture growth and soil moisture submodels, and the GrassGro DSS. Agricultural Systems 55, 535–582.
GRAZPLAN: decision support systems for Australian grazing enterprises. III. Pasture growth and soil moisture submodels, and the GrassGro DSS.CrossRef |

Mullen JD (2002) Farm management in the 21st century. Agribusiness Review 10, 1–18.

Mullen JD (2007) Productivity growth and the returns from public investment in R&D in Australian broadacre agriculture. The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 51, 359–384.
Productivity growth and the returns from public investment in R&D in Australian broadacre agriculture.CrossRef |

Mullen JD, Crean J (2007) Productivity growth in Australian agriculture: trends, sources, performance. Research report to Australian Farm Institute, Sydney.

Nossal K, Sheng Y (2010) Productivity growth: Trends, drivers and opportunities for broadacre and dairy industries. Australian Commodities 10, 216–230.

Obeid R (2013) The metabolic burden of methyl donor deficiency with focus on the betaine homocysteine methyltransferase pathway. Nutrients 5, 3481–3495.
The metabolic burden of methyl donor deficiency with focus on the betaine homocysteine methyltransferase pathway.CrossRef | 24022817PubMed |

Osborn AF (1953) ‘Applied imagination: principles and procedures of creative problem solving.’ (Scribner: New York)

Pannell DJ (2006) Flat-earth economics: the far-reaching consequences of flat payoff functions in economic decision making. Review of Agricultural Economics 28, 553–566.

Ripple WJ, Smith P, Harbel H, Montzka SA, McAlpine C, Boucher DH (2014) Ruminants, climate change and climate policy. Nature Climate Change 4, 2–5.
Ruminants, climate change and climate policy.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3sXhvFOjtb%2FO&md5=785bf5c0ffa01eb50b196523e7596afeCAS |

Robinson B (2004) Learning how to improve the development and application of hard systems tools for farming systems research, development and extension. Abstract. PhD Thesis, University of Western Sydney.

Sainsbury’s (2013) Respect for the environment fact sheet. Available at http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/media/1790293/CSR%20Factsheet%20Environment.pdf [Verified 23 May 2016]

Sheng Y, Mullen JD, Zhao S (2010) Has growth in productivity in broadacre agriculture slowed? In ‘Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society’, Adelaide, 10–12 February 2010: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/59266/2/Yu%2c%20Sheng.pdf [Verified 23 May 2016]

Stangl GI, Schwarz FJ, Jahn B, Kirchgessner M (2000) Cobalt-deficiency-induced hyperhomocysteineaemia and oxidative status of cattle. British Journal of Nutrition 83, 3–6.
Cobalt-deficiency-induced hyperhomocysteineaemia and oxidative status of cattle.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3cXhtVantbc%3D&md5=0e051b741a297439a985725f99ad2e03CAS | 10703458PubMed |

Trumbo CW (1999) Heuristic-systematic information processing and risk judgement. Risk Analysis 19, 391–400.
Heuristic-systematic information processing and risk judgement.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BD3c3ivVaitA%3D%3D&md5=0ff76e9eb99926da900c87e49d1e002dCAS | 10765412PubMed |

Valdimarsson G, Cormier R, Ababouch L (2004) Fish safety and quality from the perspective of globalization. Journal of Aquatic Food Product Technology 13, 103–116.
Fish safety and quality from the perspective of globalization.CrossRef |

van Wettere W (2013) Determining the effects of season on timing of ovulation and luteal function. Final report to Co-operative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork. Pork CRC Ltd, University of Adelaide.

White B, Thomy B, Chudleigh P (2013) An economic analysis of the GRDC investment in the Managing Climate Variability Program (MCVP Phases II & III). Report to Grains Research & Development Corporation, Canberra. Available at https://www.grdc.com.au/Research-and-Development/~/media/6A8C997561764BA9A6CF644482343AC9.pdf [Verified 23 May 2016]

Willoughby WM (1959) Limitations to animal production imposed by seasonal fluctuations in pasture and by management procedures. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 10, 248–268.
Limitations to animal production imposed by seasonal fluctuations in pasture and by management procedures.CrossRef |

Wilson JR, Minson DJ (1980) Prospects for improving the digestibility and intake of tropical grasses. Tropical Grasslands 14, 253–259.

Winter WH (2014) ‘Business advisory boards: the role in the family farm.’ Available at https://www.grdc.com.au/Research-and-Development/GRDC-Update-Papers/2014/11/Business-advisory-boards-the-role-in-the-family-farm [Verified 23 May 2016]

Zoltan JA, Audretsch DB, Feldman MP (1992) Real effects of academic research. The American Economic Review 82, 363–367. [Comment]



Export Citation