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Double the action at WeedSmart Week 2019

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!

WeedSmart Week is an opportunity for experienced growers and agronomists to share their knowledge and gather new ideas for managing herbicide resistance in farming systems. Left to right: Tony Lockrey, AMPS Moree; Rod Collins, DAF Biloela and John Cameron, Bongeen cotton and grain grower.

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.”

WeedSmart program manager Lisa Mayer with GRDC manager weeds, Dr Jason Emms at the SwarmFarm Robotics base at Gindi, south of Emerald in Central Queensland.

“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.

Harvest weed seed control tools, including impact mills and chaff decks were on show for growers at the Horsham WeedSmart Week event in August.

“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.

CQ farmer Don Sampson (pictured with AHRI northern agronomist Paul McIntosh) demonstrated his 70ft blade plough that cuts weeds off at the roots without inverting the soil, maintaining soil moisture in his conservation farming system.

Guillaume Jourdain, Bilberry CEO spoke about green on green weed detection and spraying technology at both the Emerald and Horsham WeedSmart Week events.

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.

Horsham mixed farmer Sam Eagle explained the value of containment paddocks for managing sheep grazing in a cropping system.

The 2019 events also benefited from the support of local grower groups – the Central Queensland Grower Solutions Group and the Birchip Cropping Group.

The WeedSmart team is looking forward to bringing you WeedSmart Week 2020 somewhere in South Australia! WeedSmart national team together at Horsham (left to right) Greg Condon (AHRI southern agronomist), Cindy Benjamin (WeedSmart content producer), Peter Newman (AHRI western agronomist), Jessica Strauss (AHRI communications lead), Kirrily Condon (AHRI southern agronomist) and Lisa Mayer (AHRI program manager). Missing from photo: Paul McIntosh (AHRI northern agronomist).

Podcasts on the events


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Spray application is a technical field and growers need to make sure their equipment and application techniques are spot-on. The GRDC Spray Application GrowNote provides detailed information and about 80 videos to demonstrate key skills. Prevent spray-drift The focus of spraying herbicide needs to be on doing the job right so the weeds receive the correct dose and die, and this includes reducing the air borne fraction to a bare minimum. Bill Gordon’s 10 Tips for Reducing Spray Drift Choose all products in the tank mix carefully. Understand the product mode of action and coverage requirements. Select (and check) the coarsest spray quality that will provide effective control. Expect that surface temperature inversions will form as sunset approaches and will likely persist overnight and even beyond sunrise on many occasions. DO NOT SPRAY. Use weather forecasts to inform your spray decisions. Only start spraying when the sun is about 20 degrees above the horizon and when the wind speed has been above 4–5 km/hr for more than 20–30 minutes, and clearly blowing away from any adjacent sensitive crops or areas. Set the boom height to achieve a double overlap of the spray patterns. Avoid higher spraying speeds. Leave buffers unsprayed if necessary and come back. Continue to monitor conditions, particularly wind speed, at the site during the spray operation High water rates don’t have to slow you down Some growers are concerned that increasing the water rate when applying herbicide will slow down their spray operation and cost them money. However, the biggest financial loss during spraying usually comes from a failed spray job. To keep your spray operation as time efficient as possible when using more effective and reliable application volumes, you can: Use nurse tanks around the farm to reduce the time spent travelling back to a central re-fill point. Use a larger pump, e.g. 2.5 inch, to make re-filling quicker. Pre-mix the batch while the sprayer is operating. Many mixes can be held in the mixing tank for up to 6 hours. However, wettable granules and suspension concentrates will need agitation to keep them in solution. For pre-emergent herbicides in high stubble situations, carrier volume has a large effect on the level of control achieved. Across four trial sites Dr Borger’s research demonstrated that ryegrass control with trifluralin or Sakura® increased from 53% control when the carrier volume was 30 L/ha to 78% control when the carrier volume was increased to 150 L water/ha in high Water quality and mixing order Water quality is often overlooked as a possible contributor to herbicide failure and can lead to confusion over the herbicide resistance status of weeds on a property. Water should be considered as one of the chemicals in any mix, given that water quality varies markedly depending on its source. Getting the mixing order right is essential for effective spray results. Don’t start mixing until the water quality is right Podcast – Mixing herbicides Adjuvants Sometimes adding an adjuvant is beneficial and sometimes it is detrimental; and there is an art to knowing how to best deploy these additives. When weeds are susceptible to the applied herbicides, the effectiveness of adjuvants generally goes un-noticed. Correctly applied adjuvants can reduce the impact of low level herbicide resistance by helping to maximise the amount of herbicide taken up by the plant.
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