Perspectives on animal research and its applicationJ. L. Black
John L Black Consulting, PO Box 4021, Warrimoo, NSW 2774, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Animal Production Science 58(4) 756-766 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15793
Submitted: 10 November 2015 Accepted: 9 April 2016 Published: 15 June 2016
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.
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