Spreading the WeedSmart message
WeedSmart Week has been a highlight of the WeedSmart extension program for four years, bringing together growers, agronomists, researchers and agribusiness to learn and share experiences of tackling herbicide resistance in weeds.
The first event was held in Perth in 2016, then Wagga Wagga in 2017, Narrabri in 2018 and in 2019 demand was such that two events were held – one in Emerald, Queensland and another in Horsham, Victoria. Already plans are in place for the 2020 event in South Australia. You can register your interest here!
The success of these events hinges on the quality of the grower and agronomist speakers on the forum day and the openness of the growers who welcome the bus loads of delegates onto their farms.
At this year’s events there were some other firsts, including trade displays and machinery and technology demonstrations.
Program manager, Lisa Mayer said the positive feedback has been overwhelming, with participants strongly backing the 3-day format of the event.
“The whole WeedSmart program is centred on getting practical messages about integrated weed management out to growers,” she said. “We have developed the ‘WeedSmart Big 6’ approach to controlling herbicide resistance, which is known to cost Australian grain growers an estimated $187 million in additional herbicide treatment costs, on top of the costs of extra integrated weed management practices.”
“Recognising the important differences in how these ‘Big 6’ tactics are applied in Northern and Southern region farming systems, we have launched region-specific recommendations for growers and agronomists to use as the foundation blocks for their individual weed management program to gain and keep the upper hand on weed numbers.”
One of the unique aspects of the WeedSmart program is its firm partnership with industry. The program’s main funding body continues to be the GRDC with significant sponsorship funding flowing from the major crop protection and several machinery and seed companies.
WeedSmart has most recently welcomed agricultural machinery manufacturer Primary Sales as a silver sponsor, joining platinum sponsor GRDC, gold sponsors CRDC, Nufarm, Sinochem, Syngenta, Monsanto and Bayer and silver sponsors Pioneer Seeds, FMC, BASF and Corteva.
“Our sponsors are very committed to the WeedSmart ethos of broadening weed control programs to keep herbicides as an effective long-term option for growers,” said Ms Mayer. “It is abundantly clear that the era of herbicide-only weed control is over and the sooner growers adopt a more integrated approach that includes greater crop competition, harvest weed seed control and effective crop rotations, as well as judicious use of herbicides, the more options they will have in the future.”
At the Emerald WeedSmart Week event the limelight shone on emerging technologies such as strategic tillage weed removal, the SwarmFarm robotic platform and the weed detection and spraying systems being developed by Bilberry, Autoweed, InFarm, Agrifac and WeedIT for in-crop and fallow weed management.
Harvest weed seed control was the focus of the machinery and technology demonstrations at WeedSmart Week Horsham with growers having the opportunity to look at the latest developments in the Seed Terminator and vertical iHSD impact mills and Emar chaff decks. Primary Sales also provided unprecedented access to Martin Reichelt, an international harvester expert who challenged delegates to rethink some of their harvesting strategies and settings to maximise the efficacy of harvest weed seed control while also minimising grain losses.
The bus tours continue to be an immensely valuable and enjoyable component of the WeedSmart Week events with leading growers sharing their successes and their learnings as they have pieced together a weed control program that suits their farm and their way of working.
The 2019 events also benefited from the support of local grower groups – the Central Queensland Grower Solutions Group and the Birchip Cropping Group.
Podcasts on the events