"Dynamic, Profitable & Sustainable Mallee Farming"
A yarn with MSF's Vice Chair, Robert Pocock

What a pleasant change to see widespread rainfall early this year across the MSF region. Although there is still a long way to go this season, it's a positive start for our farmer members and MSF's many research trials that are now in the ground across SA, Vic and NSW.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 restrictions we are pleased to report we still have a full trials program, however how we deliver the information to you may be different as big field days and events are on hold for the time being.

When our MSF Board sought to invest in Immersive Ag as an extension platform 'of convenience' we never would have guessed it would become the main vehicle for trial site visits due to a pandemic! So as the season progresses make sure you check in to see the new content as it becomes available.

On another note, the MSF Board is continuing to meet 4 times a year (albeit virtually for the time being) and is still focused on engaging with our farmer members and stakeholders. Whilst we can't travel across the region right now we encourage our members to reach out to us with any research priorities or issues they would like us to pursue. We are always keen to hear from you.

In October we will hold our AGM and nominations for the MSF Board will open up in September. If you are a farmer in the MSF region, have a strategic mind and a passion for RD&E and low rainfall farming systems consider nominating to become a farmer MSF Director. Terms are for a minimum of two years with one position in SA, Vic and NSW up for election or re-election every year. Keep an eye on our socials and e-updates for more info later in the year.

Wishing you all a prosperous season ahead.
MSF Vice Chair
Season update from our Program Manager,
Tanja Morgan

MSF welcomes Tegan!!

Hello I'm Tegan Buckley - the new kid on the block!
I was born and bred on the Yorke Peninsula and now living on a farm near Wynarka, SA with my other half, Hayden Zander. I'm passionate about the Ag industry, rural communications and marketing.

There's a lot going on at MSF. Even in times like the present we still have lots of positive Ag news stories and research findings to share.

We're keen to share more of your farming stories and also updates on MSF projects showcasing the great work that everyone does behind the scenes.
So, don't be a stranger. Get in touch, send us your photos, updates, tell us what you're up to and what you think of our new podcast episodes!

I look forward to meeting many of you out and about later on in the year.
Bye for now

Tegan Buckley
Communications & Media Manager - Mallee Sustainable Farming
Peter Baird - Dodgshun Medlin, Rick Llewellyn - CSIRO and Michael Moodie - Frontier Farming Systems discussing methods of fleabane control in a broadacre and horticultural setting.
‘Tackling Weeds Together’

Can we control Flaxleaf fleabane across different land uses?

A novel approach to weed management in Australia is being investigated with the start of a project that aims to research the management, economic and social benefits of tackling weeds on a broader scale.

The traditional approach to tackling weeds has been to focus on paddock or farm scale management. Instead this project aims to take an area-wide approach to weed management.

The theory being that if the number of weeds over the entire landscape can be reduced, everyone in that area should benefit, especially when dealing with weeds with mobile seed and pollen. This includes considering potential benefits across different land uses such as dryland, irrigated land and public areas like roadsides.

In the Sunraysia region, MSF will be working with broadacre farmers, wine grape, dried fruit, citrus and almond growers to trial different weed management practices to control flaxleaf fleabane with some industries sharing a boundary.

There are a number of potential weed issues related to fleabane’s ability to move across farm borders. This includes herbicide resistance spread, new weeds entering districts and spray drift. In the MSF Sunraysia region, we will be trialing weed management practices in partnership with local stakeholders and the potential broader economic impact of reducing weed spread will be evaluated.

A weed management survey has already been conducted to assess the herbicide resistance status of plants as well as genotyping to determine how far populations move and we hope to share the results of this very soon.

This project is all about bringing land managers together to identify cases with likely high payoffs and what it would take for a more collaborative approach to be attractive and successful.

Called the ‘Area Wide Management for cropping systems weeds, investigating the weed management, social and economic opportunity’ this project aims to take a new approach to weed management.

This project is supported through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program and the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

Check out our new Podcast below - Episode 1 of the 'Tackling Weeds Together' series with Tegan Buckley and Dr Rick Llewellyn.

Weather Station Tower and proposed locations of Mesonet towers

How is the Riverland & Mallee Mesonet different from other weather station networks?

MSF has been involved in helping locate all the sites for the Riverland and Mallee (R&M) Mesonet project and construction is soon to begin with the bases for the 30 towers due to be installed by the end of June.

The R&M Mesonet will replicate the Mid North Mesonet providing freely accessible weather info such as spray inversion conditions, grass fire danger index, temperature, humidity and rainfall to give farmers the knowledge they need to make good decisions on when to spray to avoid drift.

There are lots of weather stations already out there so how will this weather station network be different?

  • The Mesonet measures Vertical Temperature Difference and hence can combat spray drift
  • It was designed by meteorologists and agriculturalists with inside info from key industry players in regards to spray rules (i.e. future-proofed)
  • BoM considers it to be a higher Tier rating than most other networks
  • The network is large and the equipment used is gold standard
  • The bespoke website shows colour-coded maps, as well as time-histories and works on smart phones in low internet areas

The Mid North Mesonet and the forthcoming Riverland and Mallee Mesonet were built specifically to combat agricultural pesticide spray drift. As of 2020, it is the only permanent network which measures and publicly displays Vertical Temperature Difference (10m – 1m) to show the presence of a thermal inversion. Farmers should not spray during inversions in order to reduce spray drift.
It is further differentiated from many other networks, as it is one of the few which has been designed by both an expert meteorologist and local agriculturalists. The location of each tower has been chosen specifically, along with the high-resolution network spacing and the sensor placements upon the tower. The installed sensors represent the best available technology. In addition, the Mesonet Team is working behind the scenes with key industry players to be familiar with the most up-to-date science and expected future policy directions. If the spraying rules change to use other weather parameters, the Mesonet is already set-up and ready to adapt in ways that other networks are not.
The Mesonet will be a Tier 2 system specifically suited to agricultural needs, with very similar attributes and requirements to that of the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) Tier 1 network. A large majority of all weather station networks outside the BoM would be considered Tier 3 systems. The BoM rarely takes external data for their internal use, but they have expressed interest in using Mesonet data to help calibrate their forthcoming high-resolution (1.5km) regional modelling. As far as we know, no other weather network in Australia can make these claims.
The Mesonet will become one of the largest agricultural weather station networks with over 70 ten-metre high sturdy towers, once the Riverland and Mallee component is completed. For the Riverland and Mallee, we have partnered with a gold-standard supplier for equipment to increase the robustness of the system and minimise interruptions or outages that can often plague these types of networks.
The Mesonet website works well on smart phones and in low internet areas. The website is also one of the few which shows real-time colour-coded maps with wind directions, as well as the option to drill down for each station for time histories of specific variables. The Mesonet data is useless if it can’t easily be accessed and interpreted by its users.
For these reasons, the Mesonet is arguably unique within Australia. As the Mesonet expands further, its reliability and usefulness will only increase with greater economies of scale.

Our compendium summary is now available for download!

This includes one page summaries and key take
home messages of our longer research articles that can still be found in the 'Our Work' section on our website.

Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc.
PO Box 843
Irymple VIC 3498

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