Over the last 12 months, Pimelea cattle poisoning has moved from a call for action from the Begonia field day to a research project co-funded with producer and industry dollars.
The project pathway has required passion, cash and in-kind commitment from affected producers and a collaborative network from industry, livestock agents, researchers, regional council and government extension staff.
Dry summers followed by winter rain triggers seasonal abundance of Pimelea. Three species of this native, toxic, herbaceous plant are toxic to cattle causing St George Disease or Marree Disease. Symptoms include severe diarrhoea, reduced body condition, swelling under the jaw, brisket and belly; breathing difficulties and death. It is one of the cruellest wasting diseases of cattle. Mental well-being and financial losses of affected producers are at stake, including lost opportunity to graze pastures interspersed with toxic Pimelea plants.
Pimelea abundance may become more frequent if climate variability results in more droughts, winter rain and pasture rundown across inland Australia.
Governments and industry research development corporations are turning more towards co-investment models to maximise adoption of new R&D as the available pool of research dollars continue to shrink. The role AgForce played in advancing Pimelea research was pulling together a group of grass roots producers, industry and community representatives with a common interest in future research and development for solutions to this toxic native plant.
There is scope to consider this innovative direct funding model for other R&D situations. Together we can work towards solutions and enabling research to become a reality.
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