NSW & VIC Weeds Conference

The long-awaited NSW & VIC Weeds Conference was held in Albury 21st March to 24th March 2022 after being postponed for nearly two years due to COVID.  This conference is regarded as the premier event in both states to discuss weeds and related vegetation and production issues. This year it was hosted by The Weed Society of New South Wales. Presenters from across the two States discussed hot topics, including weed biocontrol, remote sensing and surveillance, drones, herbicide control, new potentially invasive weeds, pathways to prohibited matter, new projects, initiatives and weed management.

The CISS team, comprising Portfolio Director Richard Price, WeedScan Science Leader Andrew Mitchell and new Weeds RD&E Manager Cath Walsh, headed down to join around 200 participants to showcase the Centre’s work, and learn about the latest research and ideas for managing the establishment, impact and spread of weeds. In the lead up to the conference the team prepared factsheets and other communication materials to showcase the Centre’s growing investment in weeds R&D. The WeedScan and the Invasives Grasses Project factsheets in particular flew off the shelves.

Andrew presented with NSW DPI’s Claire Lock on the innovative artificial intelligence based WeedScan project, which was the most discussed topic at the CISS Conference booth.  Both Andrew and Richie Southern (CSIRO) answered questions and networked to get assistance from weeds experts to build the AI training database with more ‘weedy’ pics.

The field trips on the last day took participants around the Upper Murray and Victorian high country, Albury, historic Gold Country towns of Chiltern and Beechworth, as well as Holbrook and Woomargama National Park. Conference attendees got to see the likes of weed biocontrol in prickly pear and wheel cactus, demonstrations on aerial spraying and regeneration farming practices, herbicide use, detection dogs and networking with local Parks managers on community collaborations to protect areas after fire.

It was a very busy week, with lots of engagement and networking. The best part being able to see people face to face, after working with so many state representatives, research organisations and other biosecurity and weed management groups during COVID and the ‘virtual’ world we now live in. Fortunately, there was still time to kick back, relax, talk shop, and discuss the future of weeds and how best to manage them in a holistic and collaborative way.