NUFFIELD SCHOLAR: Beef producer Rebecca Comiskey.
NUFFIELD SCHOLAR: Beef producer Rebecca Comiskey. Contributed

Beef producer 2019 scholar

A BEEF producer from Central Queensland has been recognised as one of Australia's agricultural industry innovators.

Rebecca Comiskey was one of five Queensland recipients to receive a Nuffield Scholarship with support from The Yulgilbar Foundation. Mrs Comiskey said she was humbled to receive a Nuffield Scholarship.

"It has been a very humbling experience - to be around so many great minds and conversations,” she said.

Mrs Comiskey said she would use her scholarship to research strategies on how to best incorporate modern technologies to accelerate the rate of genetic gain in beef businesses and enhance key profit drivers such as fertility, market compliance and production efficiencies.

Her experience as co-operator of Melton Grazing, an 8500ha cattle business near Alpha, has led Mrs Comiskey to focus on rigorous breeder management, marketing and improving the eating quality of cattle sold.

While her focus has been running a profitable business, Mrs Comiskey also holds a philosophy of "working with nature” and using cattle to improve soil and water health and is keen to discover emerging methods for improving the productivity and sustainability of beef businesses.

"Rigorous herd management has been a key focus and we have noticed many improvements,” she said.

"However, a yearly problem is encountered in sourcing bulls that match our management and breeding objectives to ensure genetic gain is occurring. My curiosity around genomics or pulling a tail hair to further learn about an individual beast is why I decided to apply for a Nuffield Scholarship.

"If we can't measure it, we can't manage it, and I am excited by the benefits open to producers through technologies like genomics, that can provide information on hard to measure traits and enable more targeted seedstock selection.

"I'm looking forward to exploring beef production methods around the world and learning more about the opportunities that better data and modern technologies can bring to our industry.”

Mrs Comiskey will travel to Ireland, South America, the United States and South Africa to research businesses that are experiencing rapid genetic progress to meet breeding objectives.

"The bursary will allow me to travel abroad, where I hope to learn from other beef businesses and industries such as dairy as they have been using genomics, as to what has been beneficial and also take note of what has not been successful,” she said.

As a group, all 2019 Nuffield Scholars worldwide will meet in Iowa, USA for the Contemporary Scholars Conference in March next year. From there, Mrs Comiskey will travel with a group of scholars to Africa on a planned global focus program looking at agricultural businesses.