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Herbicide resistance: a recipe for disaster

The ingredients needed to create herbicide resistant weeds are readily available and easy to use. Following this recipe will inevitably lead to losses in production and profit.

To avoid disaster, DO NOT follow this all too familiar recipe!

  1. To make the best herbicide resistant weeds, choose world champion weeds, annual ryegrass and wild radish are perfect. They must be genetically diverse, cross-pollinating and excellent seed producers that are well adapted to your environment.
  2. Allow these weeds to become well-established in continuously cropped paddocks, making contributions each season to the seed bank.
  3. Add crop cultivars that do not compete well. Sow them at a low seed rate in wide rows oriented north-south. Keep the crop rotation simple—one or two similar crops will speed up the process and allow the use of the same herbicides each season.
  4. Use only herbicides to treat these weeds and, wherever possible, use low rates on large weeds. This increases the weeds’ opportunities to be a permanent part of the farming system.
  5. At harvest, be sure to spread as much weed seed across the paddock as possible so you have something to spray next year. These seeds can also be used to establish new populations of herbicide resistant weeds in other paddocks, on other farms and along roadways and irrigation channels.

If you suspect that there are weeds on your farm that are ‘surviving’ herbicide treatments there are tests available that can determine what level of resistance is present and what treatments are still effective. It’s time to get serious about herbicide resistance on your farm!

AHRI communications leader, Peter Newman, says that too many Australian farmers are using the worst-case scenario recipe described here.

“Integrated weed management adds another layer of complexity to the farming system and can be a pain,” he said. “But, to still be cropping in the future it is essential to incorporate IWM into every-day farming practice, and change is urgently needed across all cropping regions.”

“Australian farmers have a reputation for innovation and problem-solving,” he said. “Across the country there are more and more farmers rising to the challenge of managing weeds in new and creative ways—no longer relying on herbicides alone.”

WeedSmart is an industry-led initiative aimed at supporting farmers as they respond to the reality of increasing herbicide resistance in weeds. To avoid becoming another statistic, use our 10 Point Plan to develop a new weed management plan for your farm.

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