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An objective prioritisation method for agriculture RD&E

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Fordyce, G., Smith, D. R., Perkins, N. R. and McGowan, M. R. (2022) An objective prioritisation method for agriculture RD&E. The Rangeland Journal, 44 (3). pp. 149-158.

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ22009

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/RJ22009


We aimed to develop and test a relatively objective method for rapidly and accurately assessing the priority for research of interventions tendered as potential solutions to a prevailing problem in agriculture. In this test, our method aimed to direct research of evidenced-based strategies to ameliorate consistently high rates of foetal and calf loss experienced in northern Australia’s beef herd. Detailed reviews of factors affecting foetal and calf loss and potential solutions were conducted. A simple economic analysis, based on rating management interventions for their impact on earnings before interest and tax, was then developed to enable rapid simultaneous business-impact comparison of multiple options. If the outcome value for an option is negative, it suggests that the option is less profitable than is prevailing practice, if approximately zero, it suggests that the option is very marginal, and more positive values suggest a higher potential benefit. The values obtained were further analysed by rating for incidence and researchability to derive research priority. This sequence of activities was conducted by peers representing a broad spectrum of beef business (managing an estimated 0.4 million cattle), science and agribusiness representatives from across northern Australia. A sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the method was robust in ranking both business impact and research priority. Ten foetal and calf-loss minimisation interventions were rated by producer and agribusiness representatives and the project team as a high priority for business. Four of these were excluded because of low incidence or low researchability, leaving six rated as having highest priority for research. Informal feedback from many participants indicated high satisfaction with the proposed method. The conclusion was that this method, with suggested variations, successfully discriminated priority for a large range of potential interventions for calf loss research, development and extension (RD&E). The method described could readily supplant commonly used more subjective methods and be used to assess priority for RD&E of other issues for multiple agricultural commodities, as well as simply for rapid assessment of management options within a production enterprise.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:beef cattle, calf loss, economics, northern Australia, priorities, research, management, objective.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural education > Research. Experimentation
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural education > Agricultural extension work
Animal culture > Cattle
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia > Queensland
Live Archive:04 Nov 2022 02:04
Last Modified:08 Feb 2023 04:31

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