Kerin urges collaborative approach to weeds research

Published 24 June 2009

johnkerinThe Hon. John Kerin AM visited the University of New England earlier this month in his current capacity as Chair of the Interim Board of the newly-formed Australian Weeds Research Centre.

Mr Kerin, a former Federal Government Minister, subsequently served as Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management (Weeds CRC), which wound up its operations last year.

During his visit to UNE he discussed the future of weeds research in Australia – and UNE’s vital role in that research – with scientists and research managers including the Head of the School of Environmental and Rural Science, Professor Iain Young, and UNE’s Professor of Weed Science, Brian Sindel. He also launched two new booklets that UNE researchers have produced to help farmers detect and control weeds on their properties.

UNE collaborated in research projects as a participant in the Weeds CRC, and Mr Kerin said that UNE’s research capacity meant that it was “well placed to continue the work”. He spoke passionately about the continuing need for a collaborative approach to weeds research.

He also spoke about the need for research results to be made available to farmers in a readily understandable form. “Once you get the science done, you have to get it to a level at which people can understand it,” he said.

In this context, he praised the two booklets he launched at UNE: Weed Detection on Farms and Weed Detection and Control on Small Farms. These practical guides are the results of national surveys of farmers and weeds inspectors conducted by UNE with funding from Land & Water Australia. Mr Kerin referred to them as “very practical”, emphasising that “the more material we can get into people’s hands the better”.

Weed Detection on Farms, written by Professor Sindel and Om Jhorar from UNE’s School of Environmental and Rural Science, and Ian Reeve, Lyndal-Joy Thompson, Jonathan Moss and Michael Coleman from UNE’s Institute for Rural Futures, discusses the significance of weeds to Australian agriculture, and describes the current “best practice” principles for early detection of weeds on farms. The booklet is in print, and is also available on the Internet at: http://www.ruralfutures.une.edu.au/

Weed Detection and Control on Small Farms, written – particularly for owners of “hobby” and “lifestyle” farms – by Professor Sindel and Michael Coleman, explains how to identify potential weeds, how weeds spread and how to minimise their spread, discusses methods of control and the importance of early detection, and provides information on available assistance. It will be published soon.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of John Kerin (taken on the day of his visit to UNE) displayed here, expands to show him with Professor Brian Sindel (centre) and Michael Coleman.