We’re undecided whether we should picture the AHRI communication team cutting through a massive banner as we run onto the ground or raising our bats in the air at the MCG after a long day in the middle. It’s been a long innings and is one that we have enjoyed immensely.
To celebrate the 100th AHRI insight we’re reflecting on what have been the big stories that got you excited and made the biggest impact.
AHRI insight #1 went out five years and one month ago to about 400 subscribers covering some extensive research by AHRI researcher Qin Yu, ‘Why do Wild Oats evolve resistance slowly?’ Since then we have built the tribe to nearly 3400 subscribers who are from all over the world.
What were the weeds stories that stopped the nation I hear you ask?
The stories that you tuned into the most over the past five years were
Almost 20 years to the day after Ray Harrington had an idea, that idea came to fruition with an announcement at the Perth Crop Updates that DeBruin engineering would commence commercial production of the iHSD. AHRI has been heavily invested in this journey, both emotionally and financially, and it was fantastic to finally hear the news that this world first engineering challenge was about to begin.
We love a quirky one-liner to get AHRI insight started and this was one of our favourites. We featured a paper by USA researcher Dr Pat Tranel, who later featured in a Weedsmart webinar on this topic. Pat told us of some USA research that was the most convincing argument for herbicide mixes being the secret sauce to delay the onset of herbicide resistance and how mixing herbicides is more effective than rotating. We figured that this means that ironically herbicides may be used more frequently than with the pure rotation strategy, so we opened with ‘how do we get our herbicides to live hard and die old’, like Keef. In Pat’s words, rotating buys you time, but mixing buys you shots (of herbicide). To which we added, mixing and rotating herbicides buys you time and shots.
Who could forget that classic Monty Python skit – ‘We used to live in a paper bag in the middle of the road….’ We figured that there were now so many harvest weed seed control tools for farmers to choose from that they were spoilt for choice. There are still six main options but a few things have changed in this space and we aim to update this AHRI insight very soon to bring it up to speed.
The story of how 2,4-D works. Our oldest herbicide is the hardest one to understand. Ever since Pete was an agronomist in the nineties he had wondered how this 1950s herbicide worked as nobody had a simple explanation. There was a good reason for this, the researchers only worked it out a few years ago. Fortunately, we have some fantastic researchers at AHRI, and Danica Goggin was patient enough to sit down with Pete for hours over a few sessions to explain a very complex idea. We love a quirky opening, and we love a good analogy even more. The monkey analogy was to explain that a transcriptional repressor is like the monkey on the back of a sportsman who cannot perform until she gets the monkey off her back. ‘Transcriptional repressor’ is a really big couple of words – we think that monkey on your back makes much more sense.
The most controversial award goes to….
Narrow row spacing – more crop, fewer weeds (August 2016)
Pete spent many a late night on Twitter debating this one. Some fantastic long-term research by Glen Riethmuller from DPIRD set the cat amongst the pigeons. Not too many people argued against the fact that narrow row spacing of our crops increases crop competition, but there are plenty of people who are sceptical of the yield loss associated with wide row spacing. A good healthy debate, which we are sure will rage again.
It’s rare for a researcher to spend one third of their research budget on communication, which is exactly what Professor Steve Powles decided to do in 2013, forming the AHRI communication team, which has grown to the large team of Lisa Mayer, Jessica Strauss, Kirrily & Greg Condon, Paul McIntosh and Peter Newman. It’s been our pleasure to bring AHRI insight to you every couple weeks and we hope to do so long into the future. Thank you very much for your support. Now it’s time to get our heads down for the double ton!