Today we’re catching up with CSIRO Scientist, Dr Rick Llewellyn. Rick is the Group Leader for Integrated Agricultural Systems and is managing the Area Wide Management, or AWM, project.
The project is about engaging local stakeholders in generating a better understanding of the weed issues in focus regions through identifying the spatial mobility of key weeds, their herbicide resistance status and how this might impact on local land uses.
Reports and Fact sheets
The responsibility and management of weeds along Australian roadsides
Social Attitudes to Area Wide Weed Management – Preliminary Report for Other Areas
This project is supported through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program and the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.
You're listening to AHRI Snapshots, where each fortnight we chat about the science behind the weeds, and decode some of the trickier concepts which crop up. Welcome to AHRI snapshots. Today we're catching up with CSIRO scientist, Dr. Rick Llewellyn. Rick is the group leader for integrated agricultural systems and is managing the area wide management or AWM project. This project is about engaging local stakeholders in generating a better understanding of the weight issues in focus regions, through identifying the spatial mobility of key weeds, the herbicide resistant status and how this might impact on local land uses. And Rick does join me now. Hey, how are you going Rick?Rick Llewellyn:
Well, thank you.Jessica Strauss:
Thanks so much for coming on the podcast. It has been a while since we've had a chat, can you just give us a bit of an overview of what you've been up to?Rick Llewellyn:
Yeah, we've got lots going on, including this really interesting project, area wide weed management, I don't think there's been another project quite like this in for cropping weeds. So it's been really interesting for us. And we're making good progress, it's still got a couple of years to run, because in this case, we've got a project where usually we're focusing on cropping weeds being managed by the individual farmer, like most of our research is directed at, but in this case, it's looking at where weeds can potentially move between properties between land uses, and looking at what we can do to to get more profitable weed management when we take a more coordinated approach.Jessica Strauss:
Oh, very interesting. And that does sound like a lot of work. But yeah, today, we are focusing on that area wide management project you're leading. And it has several research and development partners, which are all mentioned in the show notes. So if you'd like to go back and get a bit more detail on this project, I'll provide those links in the show notes. But can you give us a broad overview of what this project entails?Rick Llewellyn:
Yeah, as you know, weeds can move between boundaries. But often, we don't pay a lot of attention to that, you know, through seed and pollen and these projects working across three different focus regions initially. And then what we're doing is looking at regions with irrigation, horticulture, dry land, grains, as well as grazing all together. And the project is all about looking at where there might be that value proposition for more coordinated collective approaches to managing weeds between the industries, as well as looking at these weeds that we do not move around. And we have got quite a few that do between boundaries, and what extra tactics might make a difference.Jessica Strauss:
Okay, yeah, that sounds really interesting. And so in terms of the actual research point of view of this project, could you run us through what you'll actually be investigating, I guess how you'll be getting that data?Rick Llewellyn:
Yes. So we've got a whole range of people involved with this project at the at the core of it at the three regions. So we've got some good farmer involvement, grower groups, stakeholders, including councils, as well as irrigation council with a whole range of stakeholders. So at that level, we're looking at what's really going to make a difference in these initial regions. But then we've got the science, we've got the weed scientists, we've got economists, social scientists, as well as a lot of people looking at this sort of spatially mapping the weeds as well. And importantly, we've got not just resistance testing, but we've also got genetic mapping as well. So we're looking at whether the weeds you might see in a district or between neighbours are actually related, or whether that actually you weeds coming in. And just looking at that level of mobility. The other important or interesting thing coming into it, we're also looking at potential for certain practices that might be particularly useful. And that's sort of looking at roadside control, as well as control of weeds and drainage lines, where we know we can move between properties. And there's also the opportunity to look at the potential for buyer control releases that are coming up in partnership with CSIRO, where we can achieve some baseline measurements and looking at what their potential might be for buyer control and a couple of important weeds.Jessica Strauss:
Very cool. Yeah, that sounds really detailed. And you did mention earlier that this project is initially working across three focus areas, and they are the darling downs, the riverina and sunraysia. Can you run us through why these locations have been chosen?Rick Llewellyn:
Yeah, well, this is a it's not your typical grains industry project, that's for sure. It's a rural R&D for profit project, largely funded by the federal government involves the cotton industry, as well as the grains industry. So we're looking at areas where you've got multiple industries side by side, and those regions Sunraysia, Riverina, and the Darling Downs really tick that box. So we're looking at these particular districts in these areas where you've got such a big range of industries side by side with grain growers, and then looking at the common problems that they're facing in terms of weeds, and often they are common weeds, but not necessarily prioritised in the same way. So we're really looking at how we can bring the different sectors together along with councils and other public land managers to sort of better control some of these problems. So that's just the initial focus areas and a later part of the project is looking where else in Australia, we might better see the same sort of benefits.Jessica Strauss:
Yeah, that makes sense. You briefly mentioned as well, we need to be so far that some of these localised approaches could obviously be developed in other regions of Australia, I was just hoping you might be able to talk to that point in a bit more detail for a script and explain what you're hoping with that.Rick Llewellyn:
Yes, we're looking at the, you know, the economic, there really needs to be a strong value proposition for this to work because it has anything to do with coordination, it has plenty of hurdles involved through the cost of coordination, leadership and getting people on the same page in terms of objectives. So it needs a good value proposition in terms economic. So what we're also doing is looking around Australia, using a lot of this sort of GIS mapping at where these sort of situations might exist elsewhere in other districts, and then we'll be hopefully developing sort of guidelines and recommendations to how it could really work in those other parts of Australia and hopefully, including taking some of these ideas over to Western Australia as well.Jessica Strauss:
That sounds really promising. And so in terms of timelines, you mentioned, there's a couple more years left in this project, when would you anticipate that you'd be able to start getting some of those recommendations in the future?Rick Llewellyn:
Well, we've got a lot of good data coming in already. And a lot of the initial work is sort of looking at the herbicide resistant status of particular weeds and looking at whether they're spreading through a district or whether they're isolated cases, and the genetic mapping data is still coming in. So as the project heads towards its final year, which is in 2023. And we're thinking that over the next 12 months, we'll have some good examples coming in. And at the same time, we've got the trial work going on in the regions where people are gaining experience with some of these practices, such as improved channel bank, weed control, as well as better herbicide options that still work on these important weeds, but still avoid the risk of drift and things like that. So there's a lot of that troll work happening right now.Jessica Strauss:
Great. And yeah, we will keep in touch with you. And most likely some of those practical approaches that you'll be able to share in the near future will be shared through our way to my channel, because obviously, that's more farmer focus. But we really appreciate you coming on our snapshots podcast and giving a real overview of the research involved. It's been great to get a bit of an insight into what the project is all about. Before we wrap things up. Did you have anything else that you'd like to mention, Rick?Rick Llewellyn:
No, that's great. Thanks for the opportunity. But yeah, keep an eye out as these results come in and look forward to working with more people involved with the battle against weeds.Jessica Strauss:
Definitely. Thank you so much again.