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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Last Days

Well the last days of my Nuffield year are really here. Still havent fully finalised the report but one full day at the office and I think it would be done.

Day four of the conference was great! Farmers and consultants came from all over, and it was a really big crowd. The talks were really applicable, and some amazing technologies released.

#1 the harrington seed destructor has been developed in the header. GRDC have developed the technology so it fits up into the back of a CASE header,, they expect that it will be released in the next 2 years!

#2 Monsanto have released info on their latest researach into a new chemical that is able to REVERSE glyphosate resistance in weeds. Amanzing. Through gene silencing, (mucking around with some enzymes), they are able to convert a resistant weed into a susceptible one! THIS is really fantastic technology, and it will be so interesting to see where it goes. Imagine if we can use grass selectives again in wheat!!!

I was looking forward to heading home at the end of the day, and missed catching up with a few people to talk about glyphosate tolerant GM wheat, a subject I need to do alittle more research on. But none the less a great week, and as I head home I only have a few things left to do.

Miling moora pasture group talk this Tuesday, should be a good night. Hand report in in the next 2 weeks, present in September!!
Yippee
Over and out

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

conference continued

The Gala dinner on Monday was a great night, and I had the great honour of being able to welcome the international guests to WA on behalf of WA farmers, and give them a little insight into WA farming. They had illusionists as the evening entertainment, and they were AMAZING!!! I think they were the ones that were on Australia has got talent.

I was pooped getting home at midnight and up early to be back at the conference by 8. I have to admit to not taking in all that much in the morning, as the science was WAY over my head, but I still enjoyed chatting to people in the breaks, and working on my report when it was all to scientific for me.

Day three morning was great, as the speakers were a little more at a farmer level. It was also great to hear my old uni superviser present. I sneaked out at arvo tea and headed to  my sisters place for a swim and catch up with the kids. So tonight I am packing up all set to head home tom night, looking forward to it. My report is coming along, I still have a fair bit to edit and finish up though.

Night

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Herbicide Resistance Conference

Well we are into Day Three into the International Herbicide Resistance Conference being held here in Perth. It really is fantastic to have these professionals around the world gathering in Western Australia to talk about our increasing weed problems. It goes to show that WA really is one of the herbicide resistant champions of the world.

Day One, was a great start. John Harvey from GRDC welcomed the group to Australia, and introduced them to Agriculture in WA. Did you know there used to be 40,000 farmers in Australia, and now there is only 22,000. Weeds are costing farmers 2 billion dollars annually in grain growing areas, and the GRDC are spending 8.2 million annually on weed research.

Other herbicide company reps spoke, as well as researchers from around the world. A lot of the focus was on glyphosate resistance, evolving with glyphosate tolerant GM crops. It really is scary to look at the rapid evolution of glyph resistance in the US with the intense reliance on roundup ready GM crops. WE REALLY have to make sure we learn from the US experience, and make use these crops n a sustainable way, that will ensure we can use the importnant herbicide glyphosate in the future.
I also get very nervous as they talk of stacking genes for multiple herbicide resistant crops. THese tools are something that we will have to use VERY carefully. Good Stewardship is essential.
It was interesting to note that no overseas visitors are strong advocates for alternative non herbicide weed control. They all mention cultural methods for weed control, but the main focus is more herbicides and future herbicide or crops that will solve their problems. Australia in my opinion really is leading the pack in Integrated weed management.

An interesting thing I learnt was about the discovery of new herbicide mode of actions. Speakers kept making the point that no new herbicide modes of action have been discoverd since 1982. Then when I was talking to people in the breaks, they were saying that many new herbicide moa have been dicovered, but that they have not got through the development and regulatory processes so that they can get to market. So..... whats going on there,??? im not sure?
Another concern is companies are putting all there money into GM seed instead of herbicide research, as there is more money in seed.

It is very obvious that herbicide resitant weeds are a major problem for all farmers around the world.





 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Draft complete

Well, massage lady was not impressed with my knotty? back, but was a fabulouse massage all the same.

Thursday, finished my draft report!!!! LOTS to add and edit and a little more research to do, but all the same feels good.
Headed down to deep water point this afternoon to catch up with the Nuffield crew and go for a water ski. Was really nice afternoon, got to meet lots of people, and even got up on the ski's, FIRST go, yahoo. Arms were dead afterwards!! Then to top the day off, Shea arrived from home for the weekend!! Yippee. We went home for omellettes for romantic valentines dinner, THEN at 9.30PM some red roses arrive at thedoor. THey were meant to be delivered in the morning but the lady had been so busy that she had only just been able to deliver them then!!
What a lovely way to finish a lovely day, I am very lucky.

Friday was the WA Nuffield lunch, and I was a bit nervous, but I got my speech done, and enjoyed a beautiful meal at the UWA Club.
Phil and LInda Stahlman arrived from Kansas, US. THey are coming over for the weed conference next week. We wandered through the uni grounds, and even chatted to mike walsh from AHRI. We were then able to join the Nuffield crew for a drink, and Phil and LInda were able to meet some of them.

WE headed back to NOrth Beach, for fish and chips on the beach. It was a lovely night. Saturday, i took Phil and Linda to Wongan, we stopped at Nannas and had a drink before we headed to the farm. It was great to show them around our place, and talk about farming in WA. And so happy that I can look after them a little after they looked after me so well in Kansas. WE stayed the night at Mum and Dads on the farm, and had a good old aussie barbeque and pavlova for sweets. My Mum and Dad are the best!

Today we have got back to Perth and I have dropped the Stahlmans off at the Esplanade for the conference starting tommorow.
 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Sitting on Bottom

I dont think I have sat on my bottom for this long for a very long time.... oh unless you count the plane flight home from PA I guess.
2 days down, and I am going well. I have been amazingly focused and not quite sure how I have managed to stay hibernated in this house till now. Have fitted in a morning run and swim everyday, and a walk down the street for my morning coffee. Other than that, just me and the old computer.

I have my coexistence part of my write up pretty much done, with a few improvements and touch ups required. IWM section to come, and I really dont have much info on that, so that is a bit scary. I will learn lots at the conference next week though I hope.

Finished my talk for Fridays WA Nuffield luncheon, am now the only 2012 scholar talking which is a bit of a buma but still be good.

Back to it, massage booked this afternoon to ease up this computer posture....

Sunday, 10 February 2013

North Beach

Well my last 2 weeks of 'Nuffield' have started. Tonight I booked into my parents house in North Beach to try and gather my thoughts and write my report up. I am here all alone for the week and lonely already :)  But I have spent the night reviewing my blog and preparing my talk for the Friday Nuffield luncheon. Next week is the International herbicide conference in Fremantle, which I am really looking forward too. I have to speak at the gala dinner, which will be another challenge, but all part of the Nuffield expereince!!
 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Alpaca's, Mushrooms, Icecream, Wine, Kareoke and Push-ups......


Wednesday’s first visit was an Alpaca stud. Monica and Dennis started farming Alpaca’s in their retirement years, after Dennis was a military helicopter driver for 25 years. They were lovely people, and are having a lot of fun with their Alpaca family. The alpaca fibre is not a real growth industry at the moment, and they share similar frustration to the wool industry.
Linda and the Alpaca :)

We then headed to Limestone Springs, a trout farm and fishing preserve. Yummo, trout sandwiches for lunch!! They had had a flood a few years back, and unfortunately lost 1000’s of trout which flowed down the stream. It was a really horrible story, that when all the fish were down stream, the farmer went on the TV explaining the problem of losing the trout after the bad storm, and the next day hundreds of fisher men went and fished all his fish. If they had not, the trout would have swum back upstream to his ponds. To me it sounded like outright stealing! They were lovely hosts though, and showed us through their many ponds, and cooked up some delicious trout for us for lunch.

Trout fishing park
After lunch we made our way to Way-Her farms. A dairy farm that also runs an icecreamery and farm shop on the highway. I was able to resist another icecream, and we made our way back to Harrisburg for the night.

To end our trip with a bit of fun, I got the crew playing the ‘mine’ game. Where every time you say the word mine you have to do 10 pushups. We headed to downtown Harrisburg, for a few beers and some dinner and had the a really fun night! Push-ups and laughs galore!

The girls of the crew, Sandra Linda and I

Thursday we headed to the Chester Country, to meet with the economic development council. This group were really interesting and great to talk to. Gary, the CEO, started the council up to support small business growth in the Chester County. They now support many small rural businesses and farms, with access to low interest loans and parcels of land, grants and funding, training and workforce development. They are a non profit organisation, and are doing so much to help their local rural community. They are facing the challenges urban sprawl, and are purchasing the development rights on land, so that farms are not taken up by industrial development. This gives the farmer some money as an incentive to keep farming and keep the land in agriculture. They are also witnessing young people not coming back into the agricultural sector and the urban/rural divide that we have seen everywhere. So they are trying to train and educate young people in agriculture. Another common theme of our trip.

We visited a mushroom farm in the Chester county next. This area produces 60% of the entire US mushroom consumption. It was a very interesting to see this different crop grown. It is a very precise farming, and everything has to be done to a strict timeline, as the mushrooms grow that quick. Mushrooms are picked 364 days of the year and packed and shipped all over the country. We were treated to Phili cheesy steaks for lunch, along with many yummy mushrooms!


We finished the day with a visit to paradocx vineyard. It is owned by 2 couples that are all doctors, hence the name ‘pair of docs’. Dave showed us around their small vineyard and winery. They had innovative wine in a paint can.... hmmm not really for me, but apparently pretty popular, and also a tea flavoured sweet wine that was quite nice.

We headed from the vineyard to the city of Philadelphia. What a crazy, busy, ugly place. However, we had a nice hotel, and found a really cool irish bar for dinner with some good live music. We had hoped to find a Kareoke bar before the end of the trip, and what do you know, there is one just down the road. So off we went and the night went from there, and as much as I really wanted to sing.......

 
Sing song......
Irish bar dinner out together
 
Friday we headed to a local city garden/park, where we met with Eisenhower directors and past scholars. This is a similar scholarship to Nuffield in terms of international travel for youn people to encourage them to learn and study. However Eishenhower is for all industries, not just Ag, and is also a global scholarship, so that even Aussies could get an Eisenhower scholarship. They have 3 ag scholarships that they try to award every year.

We headed out of Phili to Lancaster County Co-operative, where we had a video conference with Joe Russo, the president of the company ZedX. ZedX are an IT company working on modelling climate, the spread of pests and disease, soil moisture, biomass production and much more. They are working with new technologies such as smart phones and tablets to get real time data from the paddock to the office and into programmes.

We had our last night at the Willow Vally Inn, an interesting large bible bashing hotel. Comfy all the same. We had some pizza, to ensure we finished in true American style, before we headed home for an early night.

Today is Saturday, and we are heading home. This morning though we were able to visit and Armish farm. There are many Armish in this area, and you often pass them on the roads driving their horse and buggy. Sam, was a lovely man who explained to us their history and culture. They basically try to avoid most technologies, in both their lives and their businesses. SO they us no computers, phone, electricity, tractors, cars etc etc. We saw them harvesting with a tow behind header, drawn by a horse and run with a steam engine. The men all have a beard once they are married, and where straw hats and black pants with braces. The ladies wear dresses with their heads covered with a scarf. They were lovely people and it was interesting to hear about their very different culture.

We have had such a great time here in the US. As the last leg to our trip it has been great. Jean went to so much effort to ensure we had a great busy, timetable, that covered ALL of our interests and research topic. Lela and Lindsay, our Ag dept hosts, looked after us very well, and were great fun to spend the week with.

Linda with Lela and Lindsay at the trout farm

Jean and Linda

So, the rental cars have been dropped off and we now have 3 hours at the Harrisburg airport. Then, 27 hours of flying for to go, plus stopovers. Not home till Monday afternoon, but sure can’t wait to get there! What a fantastic trip we have had!!!