Robert Menzies Dixon
Rob Dixon completed a PhD (1979) in ruminant nutrition at The University of New England with Professor John Nolan and Professor Ron Leng. After a postdoctoral position at the University of Alberta, Canada, Rob took up a position as an Assistant Professor at the Central University of Venezuela where he established a ruminant physiology laboratory and research group. Rob returned to Australia in 1983 to the University of Melbourne, and in 1992 moved to Swans Lagoon in the Burdekin region of North Queensland as a Senior Research Scientist in the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. Rob’s research since that time has focused on development and application of improved technologies and knowledge of nutrition and production systems for grazing cattle in the extensive rangelands of northern Australia. He rose to Principal Research Scientist, relocating within the Department to Rockhampton in 2002 and then in 2010 joining the Queensland Alliance of Agriculture and Food Innovation (University of Queensland) while continuing to be based in Rockhampton. Rob is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Central Queensland University.
For more than four decades Rob has made significant scientific contributions in the fields of ruminant physiology and nutrition particularly in relation to nutrition management in extensive pastoral systems in the tropics and sub-tropics. His early studies included nitrogen metabolism in sheep and cattle and the capacity for endogenous salvage mechanisms to reduce dietary protein requirements, and the control and manipulation of digesta passage through the gastrointestinal tract. Research in Venezuela and Melbourne focused on interactions in rumen digestion of forages and concentrates, the consequences for rumen efficiency and animal production, and the prediction of responses of young growing sheep to various classes of supplements to increase efficiencies in the use of inputs of low cost forages and/or high-cost concentrates. Rob has also made a major commitment to the development and improvement of ruminant nutrition and ruminant production in developing countries, including 3 years managing the AAFARR network in Southern Asia, and involvement in projects (FAO, IAEA, local funding) in Latin America and Africa.
Since relocating to north Queensland, Rob has played lead roles in research of the nutritional management of the breeder cow for survival and productivity and for the efficiency of delivery systems to provide supplements to rangeland cattle. Rob is well known for his fl air for integrating research outcomes across different disciplines to provide practical management solutions for improved livestock production and efficiency, including economic considerations. A good example is how he has integrated his work on the principles of supplementation, particularly with N and P, with faecal NIRS technology to develop practical and economic management systems that can be applied in the commercial cattle industry.
Rob’s focus has always been to use good science to develop practical solutions to industry problems. He has had a major influence on beef extension in Queensland through his willingness to engage with industry and extension officers, and
nurture and train younger researchers. His work on breeder nutrition and management has played a critical role in the
development and implementation of the breeder management systems used in northern Australia. He is a regular presenter at field days, workshops and conferences at the national and international level. He has published 145 scientific papers (60 journal papers, 85 conference papers) and a number of major reviews. Rob has edited three books of conference proceedings and was a major contributor to the recent updated book for cattle producers on phosphorus nutrition of cattle. He has held editorial positions with several journals including Animal Production Science, and has been a reviewer for numerous papers across a range of animal science journals. He was a Queensland International Fellow (2012–2014). Rob has been a member of the Australian Society of Animal Production (ASAP) since graduation, and provided service to ASAP as a committee member and Treasurer for the Victorian branch while at the University of Melbourne.
For his role in advancing animal production in northern Australia, and his contribution to scientific leadership and ASAP, the Australian Society of Animal Production is pleased to enrol Dr Robert Dixon as a Fellow of the Society.