Read time: 4 minutes

Don’t let weeds call the shots in your business

Dealing with herbicide resistance can be frustrating, but if you get good advice and use the WeedSmart Big 6 checklist, you will soon be on track with an integrated plan to keep weed numbers low.

The WeedSmart Big 6 integrated weed management program starts with maximising crop competition to suppress weed seed production. Then add the other tactics, such as a diverse farming system, mixing and rotating herbicide modes of action, preventing weed seed set and implementing harvest weed seed control, to reduce the impact of herbicide resistance on your business.

More crop, fewer weeds: A competitive crop will suffer less yield loss at the hands of the weeds and will reduce weed seed set compared to an un-competitive crop. Use competitive crops and varieties that suppress weed growth through shading and resource competition. This includes selecting crops with good early vigour and canopy closure.

Diverse farming system: Short rotations speed up herbicide resistance evolution because weed populations quickly respond to predictable management practices. Implement a crop rotation system that includes different crops and pastures, with differing planting and harvest times, to disrupt weed life cycles and reduce weed pressure.

Mix and rotate herbicides: Any herbicide program that relies heavily on one or two herbicide modes of action for a target weed is bound to fail eventually. Rotate modes of action to keep herbicides working longer and use compatible herbicide mixes to safeguard each mode of action. Test weeds for resistance and susceptibility to individual modes of action and mixes. Always apply each herbicide at the full label rate.

Make every drop count: Use the correct herbicide application techniques and equipment to optimise spray efficacy. This includes using the correct nozzle, spray pressure, and spray volume for the target weed species. Ensure the full dose of every herbicide hits the target.

Stop weed seed set: Avoid replenishing the weed seed bank in your paddocks. Prevent weeds from producing viable seeds by implementing early weed control, preventing weed escapes, and managing weed patches effectively. Swathing, crop-topping, brown manuring and cutting for hay are all very effective ways to nip a weed problem in the bud.

Dont spread weeds at harvest: Implement practices to capture and destroy weed seeds during harvest. Consider harvest timing and height, aiming to get maximum weed seed into the header. Six highly effective harvest weed seed control tools, including chaff carts, chaff lining, and impact mills, are available. Choose the one that best suits your operation.

You can also test your plan using AHRI’s Weed Integrated Management (WIM) decision support software for annual ryegrass, brome grass, barley grass, wild oats and barnyard grass.

Controlling weeds is an ongoing task and requires determination and persistence. Having a great plan of attack is essential. By incorporating the Big 6 strategies into your weed management program, you can effectively reduce weed populations and minimise the impact of weeds on your crops.

Attending WeedSmart Week is a superb opportunity to gather the latest information about practical and proven weed control tactics. Learn from growers and agronomists who are winning in the war against weeds at WeedSmart Week in Port Lincoln on 2930 July 2024. Growers and agronomists often arrange to attend this annual event as part of a group study tour. Get in early and apply for a GRDC study tour grant to help with travel costs. 

Other resources

How to make the most of spring planning sessions

Case study – Curry family, Junee

WeedSmart Big 6 strategies

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