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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2008
page 73 C aTTL e COUNCIL OF a USTR a LI a Y ea RBOOK 2008 opportunities in the future. a number of the R&D and system development challenges already identified for the southern beef sector to date are outlined overleaf. Fundamentally, while the ramifications of climate change are wide-ranging, adaptations employed by the livestock sector at a farm level will be largely an extension of risk management practices already employed by many producers. However, in the face of even greater competition for natural resources (especially land and water) and widespread scrutiny of the efficiency with which we use and/or pollute these resources, it is apparent that an increased and industry-wide capacity for more timely and targeted risk management will be a critical focus of managers and R&D providers in the future. Table 1. Research priorities and potential outcomes for climate change R&D in the southern beef sector. R&d PRioRities PotentiAl sYsteMs / tools ARisinG FRoM R&d Methane mitigation from ruminants • Targeted reduction in methane output via chemical and/or biological intervention. • Extended research into genetic options (from Maternal efficiency and Net Feed efficiency projects). New feed/supplement additives (or other delivery systems – vaccines, implants, etc) to decrease the availability of methane precursors and/or inhibit methanogenic activity, preferably with a simultaneous increase in metabolic efficiency. eBv-based indices and marker-based selection tools for pest/temperature tolerance and maternal and feed efficiency. Development of regional breed x feedbase x stocking rate combinations (and/or standards) for maximising productivity in the Southern Beef zone. Development of new plant and animal genotypes based on improved water use efficiency and temperature/ pest tolerance. Quantification of regional temperature and precipitation changes, and subsequent grazing system impacts, arising from climate change. New / improved on-farm decision support tools aimed at: • Modelling pasture growth against rainfall (and/or soil moisture) • Matching feed demand/supply • Strategic supplement and fertiliser application • Automated climatic data collection • Improved pest profiling and management • Regional stocking rate calculators Development of information systems for forecasting climatic conditions within regions and seasons, Development and evaluation of integrated multi- region supply chain projects aimed at minimising the impact of seasonality and optimising supply continuity in the Southern Beef sector, through increased capacity to capitalise on regional rainfall events for extended backgrounding and finishing of cattle. Support systems for (a) syndicated/integrated beef production systems b) diversification of enterprise mixes on-farm. Development of voluntary accreditation standards that provide formal recognition of environmental management practices employed by enterprises.