Big dollars flow when research finds its way to farms

Big dollars flow when research finds its way to farms

Beef
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MLA's first Producer Adoption Outcomes Report shows millions to be gained from adopting research findings.

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AN additional $484 million will be pumped into livestock operations by 2040 as a result of research making its way back to the farm in the past five years, economic analysis of industry adoption programs has shown.

The beef and sheep meat industry's research and development corporation Meat & Livestock Australia has taken an in-depth look at what it's adoption programs are delivering as part of its overall strategy to boost the uptake of science and technology that comes from the millions spent on research.

The first ever Producer Adoption Outcomes Report, released this week, shows that 14113 red meat producers took part in adoption programs in 2019/20 and 90 per cent intend to implement change in their business as a result.

The report shows 1.1m cattle and 2.9m sheep, along with 28m hectares of agricultural land, will reap the benefits of improved management practices.

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MLA's producer adoption program manager Sally Leigo said the red meat industry faced many challenges in the 2019/20 year, including drought, bushfires, floods and repercussions from the pandemic.

That drove them to learn more about the likes of containment feeding, property planning and pasture redevelopment and to seek out advisory and support services, she said.

At the same time, boosting adoption of research findings is a key strategic focus at MLA - a move designed to get value from every levy payer dollar spent on research.

The service provider has even gone as far as ensuring pathways to adoption are identified before any particular research project is given the green light.

General manager of research, development and adoption Michael Crowley said a target had been set to double investment in adoption over five years.

As part of that, MLA would look to leverage levy dollars through attracting private investment.

The report shows the rate of return on investment in adoption programs was a healthy three or four to one.

"It shows this work is improving productivity and profitably in red meat businesses, which sets things up for long-term sustainability," Mr Crowley said.

The analysis would allow adoption investment to be shifted to where measurable practice change occurred, Mr Crowley said.

In 2019/20, a total of $9.53m was invested in adoption programs such as Profitable Grazing Systems, producer demonstration sites, the Back to Business bushfire recovery initiative, Bredwell Fedwell, Edgenetwork, webinars and upskilling livestock advisors.

A total of 972 livestock advisors, including consultants, stock agents, agronomists and veterinarians, took part in upskilling events and workshops. Advisors are seen as a trusted source of information and a key pathway to implementing practice change on farms.

The Profitable Grazing Systems, group-based learning that delivers training and coaching over several months and even up to a year, delivered a particularly strong outcome.

In the five years to 2020, the program provided a $17.47 per hectare average annual net benefit to producers involved, delivering $110m in additional value to red meat producers.

The underlying framework of this program - a regional focus, determining local priorities and working with like-minded producers - was a proven formula, Mr Crowley said.

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