Excellence in Innovation Award Winners: The Pathfinders Conference, Canberra 2009

Agricultural scientists took out all of the Awards for Excellence in Innovation at the Pathfinders: the Innovators Conference 2009.

Australian Biosecurity CRC 2009 winnersDr Stephen Prowse, CEO Australian Biosecurity CRC (right) with (from left) Mr Michael Hartmann (CRCA CEO), The Hon Tony Staley AO (CRCA Chair) and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research).

The Australian Biosecurity CRC won an award for a variation on its real-time genetic diagnostic test for avian influenza. The test was adapted in the CRC’s partner laboratories to the detection of equine influenza shortly after that virus hit Australia. Thanks in part to the test, Australia eradicated, rather than just contained, horse flu—a world first. It also used the test to demonstrate it was free of the disease.

Sheep CRC 2009 winnersProf James Rowe, CEO Sheep CRC (right) with (from left) Mr Michael Hartmann (CRCA CEO), The Hon Tony Staley AO (CRCA Chair) and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research).

The Sheep CRC was presented with an award for its Precision Sheep Management (PSM) initiative, a package of tools for graziers to move the management of their sheep from a mob basis to an individual basis. PSM capitalises on the variability within sheep flocks. The hardware and software package allows farmers to monitor and manage each animal according to its needs and merits, as well as the farmer’s and the market’s needs. It is estimated that the adoption of PSM by 20 per cent of the Australian sheep industry could raise industry profits by $82 million a year within ten years.

Poultry CRC 2009 winnersProf Mingan Choct, CEO Australian Poultry CRC (right) with (from left) Mr Michael Hartmann (CRCA CEO), The Hon Tony Staley AO (CRCA Chair) and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research).

The Poultry CRC won an award for Poultry Hub, an interactive on-line educational resource. The website, which uses the wiki interface and multimedia, is designed to stimulate the interest of Generation Y in poultry production in a bid to help stem the brain drain from agricultural science. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN has praised the site, poultryhub.org, which by May 2009 had had more than 880,000 page views, and more than 10,000 edits on almost 900 articles.

Pork CRC 2009 winnersDr Roger Campbell, CEO Pork CRC (right) with (from left) Mr Michael Hartmann (CRCA CEO), The Hon Tony Staley AO (CRCA Chair) and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research).

The Pork CRC won an award for its new vaccine against the devastating and widespread disease pleuropneumonia. The vaccine, administered to piglets in a single dose via a nasal spray, could save the Australian pork industry millions of dollars a year by reducing medication costs, as well as deaths and disease caused by the bacterium Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae.