Harnessing nature's allies: Stephen Goldson's fight against weevils

Harnessing nature's allies: Stephen Goldson's fight against weevils

AgResearch Emeritus scientist, Stephen Goldson, winner of the Supreme Award at the 2023 Science New Zealand Awards, joins REX host Dom George to discuss his innovative methods of bio-control to combat weevil pests in New Zealand. 

By introducing parasitoid wasps, the natural enemies of weevils, Goldson has significantly reduced pest levels, providing substantial benefits to New Zealand's agriculture industry. He emphasised the importance of understanding the life cycle of pests to devise effective bio-control strategies. 

Discussing the profound influence of agricultural science on the environment and New Zealand's economy, Goldson highlighted the critical role of high-risk, long-term research. He pointed out the need for sustained funding for agricultural science and the potential of genetic technologies in improving agriculture. 

"We're teetering on the brink … Animal diseases, the resistance of nematode worms to anthelmintics there's a whole range of stuff," he explains

Goldson also delved into the challenges of reducing methane emissions in agriculture and the potential solutions like pasture plants and vaccines. He mentioned his ongoing research efforts to understand the characteristics of biocontrol agents that make them successful. 

"One characteristic we have found is that they're very, very good at finding the pests, incredibly good." 

Moreover, Goldson shared his thoughts on the application of genetic technologies in agriculture. He expressed that the country is "hitting the wall in terms of what we can do without it" and called for measured and careful consideration of the impacts of these technologies. 

He suggested starting with pests not associated with foodstuffs and focusing on the value of the traits produced by the technology, rather than how they are obtained. 

This podcast provided an insightful exploration of Goldson's pioneering work in bio-control and the challenges and potential solutions in agricultural science. It was a celebration of his significant contributions to science and sustainability.

Listen to the full chat between Stephen Goldson and Dominic George above.

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