Hugh Dove – Vale Notice

AAAS wishes to inform our members of the passing of Hugh Dove, one of our Fellows.

Hugh Dove (AM) joined CSIRO in 1975 and over 40 years became an acknowledged international expert in animal nutrition, rising to the position of Chief Research Scientist.  He published 250 scientific journals and Chapters and revised and rewrote books related to the nutrient requirements for ruminant animals, including driving policy, legislation, welfare and animal ethics.  He was an elected Fellow of numerous learned institutes and societies with appointments to important committees and science academies in Australia and overseas.

Hugh pioneered the use of the new alkane technique that used the signature waxes present on different plant leaves to determine the exact components of grazing animal diets by analysing faecal samples.  This new technique revolutionised animal nutrition as it replaced invasive measurements of gut content, or the laborious visual observations of feeding behaviour, to precisely measure an animal’s diet selection.  The technique made Hugh a household name in the science of animal nutrition, and during this time Hugh continued to teach and mentor others in its use globally, and to expand its application from grazing animals to other domestic and wild animals.

More recently Hugh focussed his attention on dual-purpose crops, both wheat and canola.  Hugh’s remarkable scientific and practical contribution to this area was to realise that wheat leaves, unlike pasture grasses, are very low in sodium, and specifically in the digestive system of ruminants such low sodium can affect magnesium uptake with significant effects on animal health and growth rates.  Hugh’s research in this area in the late-2000s led to widespread adoption of simple and cheap salt supplements to animals grazing wheat, which increased animal growth by up to 40% and generated a 15:1 return on investment for farmers.  The research remains a remarkable example of careful scientific investigation leading to rapid and extensive commercial impact.

More recently Hugh collaborated on the new concept of grazing canola, as a profitable rotation crop for wheat that also provided a grazing opportunity.  As canola had not traditionally been grazed many questions emerged related to both animal nutrition and crop recovery and yield after grazing.  Over a decade from 2004 to 2014 Hugh worked closely with crop agronomists to take dual-purpose canola from an idea, to commercial reality and to develop ways to integrate wheat and canola as dual-purpose crops on farms across Australia.  Prior to his recent retirement, dual-purpose wheat and canola had been adopted on farms in every Australian state, with an estimated $1Mill ha in NSW alone in 2015, providing an important boost to productivity and rural prosperity.

Hugh contributed enormously and selflessly to the broader “community of science”, unseen effort on which the discipline of science depends to create its impact for humanity. He acted as a reviewer and Editor for Journal of the Science of Food and AgricultureOpen Food Science Journal and Grass and Forage Science; acted on the CSIRO Animal Ethics Committee; was on the organising committees and Chair of several international conferences including the series of International Symposia on Herbivore Nutrition, and for Australian Society of Animal Production and a contributor to Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology (President ACT and Sth NSW 2006 -2010); Nutrition Society of Australia (Hon Treasurer Canberra Group); Grassland Society of NSW (member State Management Committee).

Hugh had many qualities, beyond scientific excellence and impact, that made him a wonderful colleague and mentor.  At time in his career where many may be content to rest on their achievements, and while he was fighting his own health issues with colon cancer, Hugh embraced the challenge to develop a nutritional understanding of dual-purpose crops.  As a colleague he was patient and professional and brought a calm reasonableness to a team of younger scientists who greatly valued that input.  Hugh faced up to his treatment and periods of absence with incredible strength of character and professionalism always ensuring the work goals were met while tending to his treatment.  In this way he was a great inspiration to the younger team members, and it speaks to his character that his illness was never held as an impediment to ongoing scientific success.

Above all, Hugh was a dedicated family man who was enormously proud of his children and their achievements and greatly appreciative of his wife Marge for her continuing support.  He never spoke unkindly or critically of others outside the context of scientific issues, and often provided wise and mature counsel.  He was staunchly loyal to his own staff, and went to great lengths to ensure that their efforts were recognised and rewarded.

Summary of achievements

2004 Appointed to Editorial Board for Encyclopedia of Animal Science

2004 Australian Academy of Science, National Committee on Plant and Animal Sciences

2004 USA National Academy of Science, National Research Council Review on small ruminant nutrition

2006 Invited member Primary Industries Standing Committee to review ruminant

2006 Elected a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology

2006 Elected an Honorary member of Nutrition Society of Australia

2007 Awarded the Research Medal of the Nutrition Society of Australia

2007 Chairman, International Advisory Committee, the International Symposia on Herbivore Nutrition

2008 Elected a Fellow of the Australian Society of Animal Production

2008 Invited member Science Reference Group for Greening Australia

2009 Co-recipient of CSIRO Strategic Excellence Award

2017 Member (AM) in the General Division of the order of Australia for significant service to agricultural science as a researcher and editor, and to the study of animal nutrition

Reproduced with the permission of Michiel van Lookeren Campagne