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Herbicide resistance to the fore during panel tour

The continuing spread of herbicide resistance in weeds and the threat this poses to farming systems in the southern cropping region is the most widely significant issue confronting grain growers.

That’s according to the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Southern Regional Panel which has compiled a detailed report of the constraints to productivity in southern and central New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

Panel members have just returned from a week-long tour of parts of the southern cropping region where the development of herbicide resistance in rye, barley and brome grasses and broadleaf weeds such as wild radish was underlined as a critical issue.

Panel chair Keith Pengilley says growers and farming systems groups in all four States were either grappling with herbicide-resistant weeds or were concerned about the potential for resistance developing.

“It’s a problem GRDC has been addressing for some time through a concerted research, development and extension effort and we will certainly be treating herbicide resistance as a priority issue in ongoing and future investment programs,” Mr Pengilley said.

“While resistant weeds loom as a major threat to productivity, it was encouraging to speak with so many growers right across the southern region who are actively implementing integrated weed management strategies to reduce the build-up and impact of resistance.”

Mr Pengilley said other issues brought to the attention of the panel during the annual spring tour included snails, which remain a serious problem in South Australia and Victoria; nitrogen management, especially in good years; the impact of frost; the establishment of profitable break crops and more productive integrated farming systems; stubble management; waterlogging in Tasmania; irrigated cropping options; and farm labour shortages across all regions.

“The tour provided panel members with an enhanced appreciation of all these issues and more,” Mr Pengilley said. “This will enable the panel to make well-informed recommendations and decisions – on behalf of grain growers – about research priorities.”

During the tour, panel members visited growers’ properties, research facilities and trial sites and they met with growers, farming systems groups, researchers and farm advisers.

The panel was split into three separate touring parties to maximise geographical coverage and stakeholder contact during the week.

Each touring group focused on a designated agroecological zone: low rainfall zone; medium rainfall zone; and high rainfall zone/irrigation.

The low rainfall zone tour comprised visits to Pinery, Port Germein, Booleroo Centre, Orroroo, Kimba, Buckleboo, Tuckey, Arno Bay, Wharminda, Murlong, Lock, Warramboo, Wudinna, Minnipa and Mudamuckla (all in SA).

The medium rainfall zone tour involved visits to Pinery, Balaklava, Hart, Clare, Tarlee, Roseworthy, Turretfield, Keith, Sherwood and Bordertown in SA, and Gerang Gerung, Horsham and Longerenong in Victoria.

The high rainfall zone/irrigation tour visited Griffith, Yanco, Young, Greenethorpe, Harden and Goulburn in NSW, and Launceston, Powranna, Milford Dam, Campbell Town, Riccarton, Forrest Vale, Cressy, Woollen Park, Deloraine and Red Hills in Tasmania.

The itineraries for this year’s panel tour involved considerable input from GRDC’s Regional Cropping Solutions Network facilitators, who also travelled with panel members, GRDC board members and GRDC staff throughout the regions.

The panel members on tour were chair Keith Pengilley, of Conara (Tasmania); deputy chair Chris Blanchard, of Wagga Wagga (NSW); Neil Fettell, of Condobolin (NSW); Susan Findlay Tickner, of Horsham (Victoria); Richard Konzag, of Mallala (SA); Bill Long, of Ardrossan (SA); Geoff McLeod, of Finley (NSW); John Minogue, of Barmedman (NSW); Rob Sonogan, of Swan Hill (Victoria); Mark Stanley, of Port Lincoln (SA); and Stuart Kearns, of Canberra (ACT).

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