WITH enthusiastic young scientists like Bronwyn Edmunds at the wheel, the future of the WA dairy industry is in good hands.Recently announced as one of just six finalists in the prestigious Feed Central Young Scientists Communication Award, Dr Edmunds will travel to Geelong in February to be judged for her research efforts at the Australian Dairy conference.

A dairy research officer for the Department of Agriculture and Food, Dr Edmunds will present the implications of her research for the Australian dairy industry to farmers and scientists at the conference.

“The aim of the award is to teach scientists to communicate their work efficiently and effectively to industry not just to other scientists,” Dr Edmunds said.

“Scientists are very good at communicating using scientific jargon, but if you are not a scientist it is often very hard to understand what is going on.”

Initially Dr Edmunds was selected based on an abstract she submitted which highlighted the details of her research, she was also required to write a magazine article to be published in the Australian Dairy Farmer.

Dr Edmunds will also present a poster and five minute power point presentation at the conference as part of the award.

“It is a fantastic opportunity which will help me develop my communication skills and represent WA,” she said.

“It will reinforce that we have a professional team of scientists over here doing dairy research and to show that we are still alive and kicking.”

Dr Edmunds’ research was an additional part of her PhD work in dairy nutrition undertaken in Germany from 2007 to 2012.

“The research looked at the amino composition of forage that is undigested in the rumen and goes on to the small intestine for further digestion,” she said.

“It’s a real challenge to measure this because it’s invasive, you have to look at what hasn’t been digested in the rumen.

“We incubated grass in the rumen of the cow for 16 hours, then removed and analysed the amino acid composition of the undigested residue.

“The difficulty with that is when you pull it out of the rumen it is covered in rumen microbes, and they have their own amino acids which confounds the results.

“For this reason scientists have found it very difficult in the past to quantify amino acid composition.”

Ms Edmunds then formulated a new procedure to correct microbial contamination which allowed her to discover that the amino acid composition of the residue was actually very similar between all the measured forage samples.

“This finding has implications for scientists in the way of improved analytical methodology, and farmers in the way of improved ration formulation and precision feeding,” she said.

Dr Edmunds features in this month’s Young Guns in Agriculture series. See page 10 of Section 2 of this week’s Farm Weekly for more.
Source: Jessica Hayes – Queensland Country Life