Page 13 - Australian Pork Newsapaper
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Cross-sectoral collaboration driving innovative solutions
OVER the past couple of years, APL has invested in a number of cross- sectoral projects as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Rural R&D for Profit program.
Some interesting out- comes are now emerging from these projects; the three production-related projects are briefly de- scribed below. Alternative feed sources from sugarcane waste
Sugarcane is one of Aus- tralia’s largest crops, with up to 35 million tonnes of sugarcane grown an- nually.
Sugarcane harvesting and processing generates a range of by-products including 10 million tonnes of bagasse and trash.
Bagasse is the fibrous residue left over when the sugarcane is processed at the mill and trash is the tops and leaves of the sug- arcane plant that remain in the field when the stalk is harvested.
Biomass residues from agricultural crops, such as sugarcane, have sig- nificant potential to be used for animal feeds and are generally cheap- er than other feed ingre- dients.
However, bagasse and trash are poorly digested by ruminants and mo- nogastric animals, includ- ing pigs.
Given the potential benefits that alternative and cost-effective feed sources could bring to the Australian pig indus- try, APL is participating in the “Biorefineries for Profit” project being led by Sugar Research Aus- tralia and managed by the Queensland University of Technology.
Other RDC’s involved in the project include Forest and Wood Products Aus- tralia and the Cotton Re- search and Development Corporation.
Research has been con- ducted to benefit the pork industry, particularly through improving the di- gestibility and nutritional value of sugar cane crop residues to make it a via- ble alternative feed source for pigs.
So far, novel pre-treat- ment technologies to en- hance the nutritional val- ue of sugarcane bagasse have been successfully developed.
Prebiotic xylooligosac- charides produced from the xylan fraction in plant fibre have also been de- veloped from bagasse – these are potential dietary supplements.
Recently, a one-year extension to the project has been granted as part of round four of the De- partment of Agriculture’s RR&D4P program.
This work will validate the safety and efficacy of sugarcane bagasse as a suitable and cost-effective animal feed alternative.
Projects will be under- taken at a number of com- mercial livestock facilities including pig production systems.
We’ll provide latest up- dates about this as they come to hand. Forewarned is Fore- armed
Extreme climate events significantly impact on the productivity and prof- itability of Australian farming systems.
Extreme weather events can affect pig production, in particular heat wave events can significantly impact animal health and production.
Weather forecasts and warnings are routinely used to advise the com- munity of extreme weath- er events, such as heat- waves.
This translates into fire bans being instigated, timing of harvest changes, proactive irrigation and shading for crops, moving livestock to shaded areas and ensuring water avail- ability.
However, there are sig- nificant gaps in being able to provide warnings of extreme weather events 7–28 days ahead and for upcoming seasons.
This project, which is being led by Meat and Livestock Australia, also involves the grains, cot- ton, meat, dairy, sugar, wine, horticultural and pork industries.
It aims to improve the forecasting of climate extremes such as heat- waves, frost, floods and drought and to link the forecasts with manage- ment options.
This will equip farmers with the information and tools to be forewarned and proactively prepare producers to manage ex- treme weather events and minimise the impact on agricultural systems.
It is being run in con- junction with the Bureau of Meteorology and is scheduled to be complet- ed by 2022.
For Australian pork pro- ducers, this could mean that systems can be put in place to help with forecasting of heat wave events weeks in advance.
This would give man- agers time to organise labour, facilities and re- sources to optimise ani- mal care and minimise effects on production.
Indirectly, Australian pork production systems will benefit through the adoption of these early warning systems by grain farmers to help ensure improved grain yield and availability.
Virtual herding
About 10 years ago, CSIRO began examining the potential of virtual herding for the beef cattle industry.
Using a GPS system to define fence boundaries and a specially designed collar that alerts the an- imal to the fact that it has reached the ‘fence’, a prototype of the system was successfully demon- strated with beef cattle.
To make virtual herding a viable livestock man- agement option in Aus- tralian livestock farming systems, Dairy Australia
along with Meat and Livestock Australia, Aus- tralian Wool Innovation and Australian Pork Lim- ited have partnered with a number of Universities, CSIRO and Agersens.
This work is aiming to deliver significant pro- ductivity and profitability improvements, 10-20 per- cent, for livestock enter- prises through the evalu- ation, demonstration and adoption of this technol- ogy.
Overall, this project will ensure more effi- cient use of pasture, protect environmentally sensitive areas, improve the performance of live- stock by better matching their nutritional require- ments to feed availabil-
ity and reduce labour to enable significant pro- ductivity and profitabil- ity gains for Australian farmers.
Whilst there are cur- rently no virtual herding systems available for pigs, we are continuing to as- sess developments in the technology development for potential application in the pig industry, par- ticularly in free range sys- tems in some states.
For further information or to discuss, please con- tact Rebecca Athorn on 02 6270 8827 or rebecca. athorn@australianpork.
Heather Channon, APL Research and Innova- tion, General Manager
Australian Pork Newspaper, September 2019 – Page 13
Pandemic + illegal imports = clear and present danger
AFRICAN swine fever is one of the most sig- nificant threats to Aus- tralian agriculture and the national economy in recent memory.
Agriculture Minis- ter Bridget McKenzie said despite the global pandemic, the public hadn’t got the message that meeting biosecurity requirements was non- negotiable.
“Between last Novem- ber and May, 23 tonnes of pork has been seized at Australian borders,” Minister McKenzie said.
“That’s the equivalent of four pigs arriving in the country every week.
“Australia works overtime to keep those threats at bay—inter- cepting over 1000 items of pork a week at air-
ports and mail centres— but those odds are not in our favour.
“A change in our bio- security status could damage our reputation as a clean and green producer threatening our market access—and many Australians prob- ably aren’t aware of this.
“That’s why Austral- ia’s agriculture minis- ters agreed to promote biosecurity messages through a new national biosecurity website to improve the communi- ty’s access to informa- tion.
“The website is a por- tal directing users to rel- evant biosecurity infor- mation on trusted sites.
“If you’re an on-line shopper, an international traveller, a keen garden-
er or a farmer, informa- tion is tailored to your interests.
“The site is in an early release stage so people can explore the content that relates to them and leave feedback. I en- courage all Australians to jump on and have a look.
“The Australian Gov- ernment is serious about making sure the com- munity has access to the information it needs to play its part in managing biosecurity threats.
“Not knowing the rules is no excuse for doing the wrong thing— I want people to feel knowledgeable enough to do the right thing.”
The website is avail- able here:
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