COMMENT: Professor Bruce Allworth discusses the importance of scientific knowledge in agriculture

RURAL FOCUS: Professor Bruce Allworth from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation. Picture: Supplied

RURAL FOCUS: Professor Bruce Allworth from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation. Picture: Supplied

Knowledge is power- if you don't know about it, you can't fix it. Between the vagaries of weather and markets, neither for which we have a reliable forecasting system (yet), farmers may often feel they have little control over their farming business.

While farming profits will always be greatly influenced by the weather and the markets, there are many areas of agriculture where getting better knowledge will lead to better decisions and profits.

For cattle producers and animal health, this is certainly the case. Do you know your pestivirus status of your herd? Should you be using a BRD vaccine prior to sending cattle to a feedlot? Is the drench you are using on your cattle effective? Should you be using a pink eye vaccine on calves at marking? While there are general recommendations about all these animal health issues, such recommendations may or may not be applicable to your herd. By using data from your own herd, you can tailor the animal health management to suit your situation.

In a small study carried out in 2017 by Charles Sturt University's Fred Morley Centre on drench resistance in cattle herds, five of six farms were found to have resistance to macrocyclic lactone drenches (for example Ivermectin). Drench resistance was not suspected on any of the farms and all six producers have altered their worm control strategy in light of the new knowledge. Having the right information about your herd is essential to ensure optimal animal health, and that money is properly invested in livestock.

There's an opportunity for producers to gain knowledge about current research that can be applied on-farm at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation's Livestock Forum in Wagga on Friday 26 July.

On the program a case study on the effectiveness of eliminating pestivirus from a beef herd, and a separate study involving four farms to see if using a BRD vaccine pre-sale influenced cattle weight gain at sale.

The key to sound decision making in any situation is knowledge, but this is even more important in farming.