‘Game-changing’ weed tech to be showcased at Bendigo grains forum

Photo of Guillaume Jourdain
A keynote speaker at the GRDC Grains Research Update in Bendigo will be Guillaume Jourdain, the co-founder and chief executive officer of French technology startup company Bilberry. Photo: Bilberry

Artificial intelligence could provide a ‘game changing’ weapon being sought by Australian grain growers in their battle against costly weeds within their farming systems.

Breakthrough ‘green on green’ weed search and destroy technology that has been developed in France has the potential to reduce in-crop herbicide usage by 80 per cent, according to the company behind the technology.

Victorian grain growers, their advisers and other grains industry personnel will be given a first-hand account of the technology’s potential at the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Grains Research Update in Bendigo on February 26-27.

A keynote speaker at the Grains Research Update at Ulumbarra Theatre will be Guillaume Jourdain, the co-founder and chief executive officer of French technology startup company Bilberry.

Mr Jourdain, who trained as an engineer, will outline his company’s artificial intelligence (AI)-based weed management tool which combines an array of cameras with in-crop weed recognition, real-time spot spraying and weed mapping software.

Thanks to specially developed AI algorithms, Bilberry technology can recognise weeds at 60 kilometres per hour, day and night, to detect weeds within agricultural crops.

At the Grains Research Update in Bendigo, Mr Jourdain will focus on this capability and review the results that Bilberry achieved with the technology’s first users.

Another keynote speaker at the Update will be Australian Farm Institute executive director Richard Heath, who will discuss how public perceptions and consumer emotions influence engagement in the debate around agricultural practices, and what that means in terms of how the agricultural sector needs to communicate to re-build trust.

GRDC Grower Relations Manager – South, Courtney Ramsey, says the Grains Research Update will present the latest research findings, advice and recommendations for informing growers’ decision-making within the context of broader industry challenges and opportunities.

“Considered the State’s premier research, development and extension (RD&E) forum, the annual Bendigo Grains Research Update plays an important function in providing industry in this State with the latest insights and advice from the GRDC’s broad portfolio of investments in research and development,” Ms Ramsey says.

“Updates present an opportunity for growers, advisers and other industry stakeholders to learn about the latest findings from GRDC research and where and how that can be applied to drive greater profitability on-farm.”

Ms Ramsey says it is critical that Victorian growers and advisers are equipped with cutting-edge knowledge and resources to inform their tactical decision-making and guide them through the coming cropping season and beyond.

“We operate in constantly evolving natural, social and economic environments, so it’s crucial we respond to that with scientific evidence-backed information to assist with decision-making and technology adoption. That’s why RD&E plays such an integral role in keeping growers profitable.

“This year, through the Bendigo Update program, we will hear from some of our industry’s leaders in agronomic and technical research delivering relevant and impactful information for the seasons ahead.”

Image of Peter Newman
Peter Newman from the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative will outline important non-chemical approaches to integrated weed management at the GRDC Update in Bendigo. Photo: Rebecca Jennings

Additional keynote speakers at the Update include Harm van Rees, of Crop Facts Pty Ltd, who will delve into opportunities for bridging the ‘yield gap’ as highlighted through the National Paddock Survey; GRDC Chemical Regulation Manager Gordon Cumming, who will address some key questions around chemistries under review and those likely to face scrutiny; and Peter Newman from the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative, who will outline important non-chemical approaches to integrated weed management.

Day one topics include addressing nitrogen and soil organic matter decline; research statistics made ‘sexy’; the scale and significance of herbicide residues in soil; improving the performance of inoculants in sub-optimal conditions; a fresh look at Russian wheat aphid control; emerging management tips for early-sown winter wheats; and cost-effective outcomes for ameliorating sandy soils.

Other day one topics include the latest on new canola variety phenology, their response to frost and optimum management strategies; a wrap-up of cereal and soil borne diseases; sustaining herbicide options into the future; the care and responsibility involved in providing advice to growers; a high rainfall zone research forum; and emerging research from PhD students.

Agronomic topics to be covered on day two include the impacts of stubble height, row widths and yellow leaf spot on crop development; understanding ‘alphabet’ resistant annual ryegrass); managing soil acidity; canola fungicide strategies; and tools for forecasting insect pest risks.

The likelihood of a threat from mice in 2019 and newly-informed baiting strategies will be another topic of considerable interest on day two, along with the relative importance of different factors on the water use efficiency of wheat in the Wimmera, Mallee and Western District; chaff lining weed persistence and site-specific targeted tillage for weed management; the impact of nitrogen placement application methods; and a pulse agronomy forum.

With the theme of ‘boosting profitability – resilient solutions’, the Update will be attended by hundreds of agronomists, consultants, researchers, growers and other grains industry personnel. For a detailed program and to register for the Update, please visit https://grdc.com.au/events/list or phone ORM on 03 5441 6176 or email [email protected]

/Public Release.View in full here.