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How can I ensure my complex tank mix is compatible and will spray out?
The pressure for growers to get across a large area in a short period of time has led to an increased use of complex tank mixes – but the efficiency gains of this practice can easily become unstuck if taking short-cuts results in not being able to spray the brew out. Stephen Pettenon, FMC technical services specialist. FMC technical services specialist, Stephen Pettenon, says if there are many products in a tank mix, it becomes increasingly difficult to prevent adverse chemical reactions from occurring in the ‘brew’. “If operators follow a few guiding principles it is possible to safely mix a complex combination of herbicides, insecticides and even crop nutrients,” he says. “But it is also quite easy to end up with a tank of sludge that can not be sprayed out, if you don’t take the time to get it right.” With several new products, such as FMC’s Overwatch, Syngenta’s Reflex and Callisto and Bayer’s Sakura Flow, being released as suspension concentrates (SC), it is important to recognise that there is no guarantee that a desired combination can be mixed and sprayed out effectively. “The first consideration is whether the tank mix is safe and if there are any biological antagonisms likely to arise,” says Stephen. “This is where one product impairs the efficacy of a tank mix partner or increases the risk of crop damage. These antagonisms are relatively rare in pre-emergent situations, but where they occur they can also have implications for the evolution of herbicide resistance.” “The second, and more common, problem in tank mixes is the potential for the mix partners to be chemically incompatible,” he says. “This can result in the formation of irreversible precipitate reactions or some components settling out of suspension and potentially causing blockages.” Tank mixing involves many products and so potential crop safety losses must also be a consideration. The WeedSmart Big 6 tactics for reducing the impact of herbicide resistant weeds on farming systems also promotes the importance of applying herbicides in the most effective and safe manner. *Always read the label and check with your agronomist for compatibility before mixing and applying agricultural chemicals. What are the top tips for complex mixes? In brief: The number one tip is to take your time. Rushing is the most common cause of tank mix failures. The details: Products that are SC or water dispersable granules (WDG) need time to properly disperse. They also need sufficient solvent – that is water. Start by filling the tank to at least 70 per cent of its capacity with good quality water before adding any products. Each chemical must be added and dispersed fully before the next chemical is introduced to the tank. Keep water rates above 80 L/ha and ensure the agitation system is working well to improve the likelihood of keeping a complex mix in suspension. Simplify the mix if you can. Keeping two or three products in a compatible mix is generally less challenging than achieving the same for a six or seven-way mix. Be realistic about what can be achieved in a single tank mix. Courtesy of FMC. Do I need to be careful when choosing between formulations? In brief: Yes, not all products are created equal. The details: Some products are only available as a powder formulation (suspension concentrate – SC) and it is not possible for them to be produced as a more soluble, emulsifiable concentrate (EC). For example, Rustler 900 WG is a formulation that requires plenty of time to absorb water and swell the granules and then to disperse into the tank water. Allow at least 5 to 10 minutes, with agitation, before adding the next product. Suspension concentrates also require significant amounts of time. Some formulations of the same active can behave vastly differently in tank mixes. A well-known example is that potassium (K salt) loaded glyphosates are often less compatible in a tank mix than isopropylamine (IPA) and monoethanolamine (MEA) loaded glyphosate products. K salt formulations have never been good mixers because the potassium ion has a high ionic charge and small molecular mass, so it has a high affinity to bind with other molecules. K salt formulations are known to cause flocculation issues if mixed with SC and WDG products and such combinations should be avoided. There are some brands of potassium glyphosate formulations with complex surfactant systems that are mixing-friendly, provided agitation is maintained. Mixing order is crucial. Start with correctly conditioned water and then add the least soluble formulation first, allowing time for each product to disperse before adding the next component. If you are unsure of the compatibility of the desired products for the mix, conduct a jar test or ask for technical advice. The major chemical companies are involved in ongoing compatibility testing of the products that may be useful tank mix partners. Are there things I can do with the sprayer set up to minimise potential problems? In brief: Avoid over-filtering and be careful when using transfer systems. The details: It is common for spray rigs to use filtration that is too fine for the nozzle size being used. Using the correct in-line and secondary filter for the selected nozzle can greatly reduce the chance of blockages. For example, the standard 100 mesh filters on most spray rigs may not be the best choice for handling the mix. If using a single orifice nozzle that is 02 or greater in size, then using a 100 mesh filter (when a 50 mesh is adequate), will greatly reduce the area of passage and potentially increase the chance of blockages. If transfer systems are used it is important that the small tank contains only one of the spray mix components. Pre-mixing some or all the products in a transfer system or nursery tank can have some advantages in time efficiency for refilling the sprayer. Problems can arise if the full mixture of chemical is added to a small nurse tank. For example, if the full load of components is added to a 1000 L nurse tank destined for a 5000 L spray rig re-fill, there is unlikely to be sufficient water in the nurse tank to allow for complete dispersion of the product. If transfer systems are used it is important that the small tank contains only one of the spray mix components. Other resources Agricultural pesticides formulations (SmartTrain course notes)
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What are the best herbicide mixing strategies for winter crops?
Mixing pre-emergent herbicide groups is known to extend the effective life of all the mixing partners, and is even more important than simply rotating herbicide modes of action. Mixing can even breathe new life into herbicides that appear to have ‘run out of puff’. Agrivision agronomist, Tim Pohlner, says it is well worth the effort to review and fine-tune your pre-emergent and in-crop herbicide plan for the coming season and beyond to make sure you get the best bang for buck. Tim Pohlner, Agrivision says it is important to keep as many options as possible ‘alive’ as viable tactics to use in a diverse program. “Effective weed control underpins profitability and while doing a good job may cost more there are rewards in productivity and profitability in keeping weed numbers low,” he says. “A robust pre-emergent mix has a two-fold benefit in providing early weed control while the crop is small, as well as reducing the pressure on in-crop herbicides.” Some pre-emergent herbicides, such as trifluralin, are no longer an option as a standalone herbicide for ryegrass control, but can be a useful mix partner with other pre-emergent herbicides. “It is important to keep as many options as possible ‘alive’ as viable tactics to use in a diverse program,” says Tim. “Herbicides can’t do all the work on their own and need the support of cultural practices as well.” “Mixing and rotating herbicide groups is one of the WeedSmart Big 6 tactics to reduce weed pressure and prolong the useful life of current chemistry,” he says. “There is strong scientific evidence for the value of mixing pre-emergent herbicides whenever possible, provided all the necessary precautions are met.” *Always read the label and check with your agronomist for compatibility before mixing and applying agricultural chemicals. What’s a good pre-emergent strategy for wheat and barley? In brief: Mix trifluralin with a partner for better weed control. The details: Trifluralin is no longer an option as a stand-alone herbicide against ryegrass. Application rates increased over time in response to increasing resistance but the release of Boxer Gold and Sakura have offered alternative chemistry that partner well with trifluralin. Rotating compatible mixes prolongs the life of all the applied chemistries. When trifluralin is applied on its own each year resistance is expected within 10 years. When trifluralin is rotated with other single-shot herbicides, the onset of resistance is delayed by another two or three years, but when trifluralin is mixed with other pre-ems, and the mixes are rotated, it takes 25 years for resistance to evolve, even though trifluralin is applied in two years out of every three. Including trifluralin in a herbicide mix with Boxer Gold, Sakura or prosulfocarb broadens activity on more weed species and extends the length of control into the growing season. Some tried and true pre-em mixes for cereals are: Boxer Gold + trifluralin IBS Prosulfocarb + trifluralin IBS Prosulfocarb + Sentry PSPE Prosulfocarb + Avadex IBS Sakura + trifluralin IBS Sakura + Avadex IBS Sakura + Sentry PSPE, disc system (Diuron can be added to all of the above) Recently, several new pre-emergent grass herbicides have been released into Australia, providing additional rotate and mix options. Luximax (Group T / Group 33) was a new herbicide group to broadacre agriculture in 2020. Luximax is only registered in wheat and should be applied IBS in front of a knife point press wheel. BASF strongly recommends that the wheat seed has 3 cm of soil covering to minimise crop damage. Overwatch is a Group Q (Group 30) bleacher being released this year. It has a very unique use pattern where it controls annual ryegrass and suppresses brome and wild oats, provides control for some of our hard to control broadleaf weeds and suppresses many others. Key broadleaf weeds are bifora, hog weed and sowthistle, and suppression of bedstraw capeweed, prickly lettuce and wild radish. FMC promotes Avadex as an excellent partner mix. In extreme ryegrass populations, Overwatch + Sakura is very effective although pricey. Trifluralin is a good, cost-effective partner mix. What is the best mixing strategy for break crops? In brief: In break crops there are opportunities to mix pre-ems and then to use a mix of in-crop grass selectives. The details: Widespread resistance to Group A (Group 1) herbicides has changed the way break crops are grown and made it essential to have a strategy in place for ryegrass control. In some situations, it may be worth considering growing a legume that allows a substantial knockdown e.g. field peas, chickpeas. Mixing trifluralin with propyzamide improves overall grass control when applied pre-emergent and incorporated by sowing. Propyzamide can also be mixed with Simazine or Terbyne at robust rates. Ultro is a new pre-emergent grass herbicide for pulses for 2021. Ultro is a Group E (Group 14) and will give a new option for ryegrass control and provides better control of brome grass and barley grass than many other pre-emergent options. Ultro has good water solubility, enabling good weed control even in marginal breaks to the season. Ultro can be mixed with most other pre-emergent herbicides. In-crop, clethodim is still a cornerstone herbicide for grass control in break crops. To maximise effectiveness, avoid applying when the weather is cold or frosty, establish dense, competitive crops, use pre-ems to reduce weed pressure, apply robust rates and mix clethodim with Factor (butroxydim) or Intervix / Intercept over IT canola and XT lentils and beans. Implement crop topping prior to harvest to stop weed seed set in late germinating weeds. What makes a good herbicide mix? In brief: Two or more compatible herbicides, each at full label rate for the target weed. The details: Additionally, there should be no (or low) resistance to the individual herbicides in the mix, no antagonism between the herbicides, the products must be chemically compatible when mixed and the mix must be safe to the crop and cost effective. The aim of the weed control strategy should be to target zero weeds. Make the most of the rotational options available in your growing region and use cultural practices as well as herbicides to reduce weed numbers. Avoid rotating to an inferior product because that will inevitably result in a weed blow-out. However, don’t discount a herbicide even if you know the weeds present have a level of resistance. Mixing this less effective herbicide with another mode of action will often improve the outcome. Mixing herbicides may increase production costs but you can be confident that the reduced weed burden will increase production and profitability. With a little forward planning it is usually possible to solve the majority of weed issues that are encountered. More mix ‘n’ rotate resources: Mix and rotate in the Big 6 AHRI Insight : The herbicide mixture is greater than the sum of herbicides in the mix AHRI Insight : Mixing herbicides wins again The global classification of herbicide modes of action is changing. You can find out more on the Herbicide Resistance Action Committee website. Watch Tim Pohlner’s presentation at WeedSmart Week 2019 (please note that new products have since been released):
Make seedbank management your priority this year
You can listen to the article being read above! We all know that old saying – ‘one year seeding, seven years weeding’ or some variant of it, and know it is true. But it is easy to overlook just how important weed seedbank management is, until herbicide resistance begins to reduce the efficacy of previously reliable tools. For a few decades herbicides really took the focus away from seedbank management because the chemical options were so effective at killing weeds that they appeared to be a complete solution to weed management. But all along, growers, agronomists and researchers have known it was too good to last. The WeedSmart Big 6 strategy has struck a chord because it is a useful check list that can be used to prompt growers to consider using a selection of the many available weed control tools. No one tool will do the job – just as herbicides alone have failed, so too will harvest weed seed control or crop competition if they are not part of a planned and multi-pronged assault on the weed seedbank. This is the underlying principle for integrated weed management. In economic simulations conducted using the RIM and WeedRisk models in 2006, agricultural economists Randall Jones and Marta Monjardino showed that although many things impact on the economic assessment of weed management practices, there is strong evidence that when seasonal risk is taken into account, and the economic assessment is for a period of 20 years, integrated weed management consistently out-performs herbicide-only systems, regardless of the weed in question. Herbicides provide high level control and are considered an essential component of broadacre cropping systems, however, other tactics that specifically target weeds that have escaped herbicide control are what make IWM systems more profitable in the long-run (see Table 1). For weeds like wild radish, which produce large quantities of seed that can remain viable in the soil for many years, taking a non-integrated approach of using post-emergent herbicide only has the potential to ‘crash the system’, from an economic point of view. It will always be a numbers game and IWM consistently wins, usually by a considerable margin, primarily due to lower weed seedbank numbers and conservation of the highly effective herbicide resource for tactical use over time in integrated weed management systems. TABLE 1 The economic impact ($/ha) of different crop and IWM systems on meana annualised discounted returns for wild oats, wild radish and annual ryegrass in a southern New South Wales cropping system (4-year crop phase followed by 3-year perennial pasture phase). Economic return ($/ha)a Wild oats Wild radish Annual ryegrass Continuous cropping No IWM 268 (± 35) -9 (± 27) 284 (± 34) IWM 332 (± 38) 315 (± 37) 335 (± 38) Crop + pasture rotation No IWM 288 (± 29) 157 (± 25) 284 (± 28) IWM 319 (± 32) 300 (± 30) 320 (± 31) a The shown in brackets following ± are the standard deviation. Source: Jones R, Monjardino M and Asaduzzaman Md (contributors) (2019). Section 1: Economic Benefits of Integrated Weed Management, in: A.L. Preston (Ed) 2019. Integrated weed management in Australian cropping systems. Grains Research and Development Corporation. Use the WeedSmart Big 6 to prepare an IWM plan for your farm To develop an integrated weed management plan (IWM), it is useful to collate some historical information about past weed control activities, test weeds for herbicide resistance and use the WeedSmart Big 6 to match opportunities and weeds with suitable and effective control tactics, remembering that there are many weed control tools at your disposal. With your agronomist’s assistance, aim to create a plan that maps out when each tactic will be applied. Ideally, try to include three or more of the Big 6 tactics in each crop, fallow or pasture phase. Diversity is key. Some people prefer to have a set cropping sequence while others choose the crops in response to seasonal or market conditions, but either way it is important to look for ways to add as much diversity to your farming system as possible and to keep downward pressure on weed numbers at every opportunity. While preventing weed seed production completely is unrealistic in the real world, a focus on the weed seedbank will pay dividends in the long run.
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What alternatives are there for desiccation and crop topping?
Desiccation and crop topping with pre-harvest herbicide application is a useful way to reduce seed set in late germinating weeds and is an effective harvest aid for cereal grain, pulse and oilseed crops. Given the scrutiny that glyphosate is currently receiving Paul McIntosh, WeedSmart’s northern extension agronomist, says it may be a good time to start looking for alternative means of reducing weed seed set prior to harvest and avoiding any potential issues with market access. WeedSmart’s northern extension agronomist, Paul McIntosh has been investigating alternatives to glyphosate as a desiccant in mungbeans. “Currently, there are five herbicides registered for late season use in a variety of crops,” he says. “Glyphosate and diquat (or Reglone) are registered for use in wheat and barley in some states, canola, chickpea, lentil, faba bean, field pea, mungbean and soybean. For some of these crops, growers are also able to use paraquat, metsulfuron methyl or saflufenacil (Sharpen).” Although there are many benefits to the practice from a weed control perspective, there are also market forces at play that could curtail the future use of pre-harvest herbicides. “It might be a good time for growers to re-visit some of the non-herbicide options for reducing seed set,” says Paul. “One possibility is to trial swathing in pulse crops like chickpeas, faba beans and mungbeans. Early commercial scale trials suggest that it could be very effective and could also have the additional benefit of hastening crop maturity, bringing harvest forward.” “In combination with harvest weed seed control, swathing is a valuable WeedSmart Big 6 tactic to manage the weed seed bank,” he says. “Swathing adds another non-herbicide tool to a diverse program, particularly for pulse crops that are often not very competitive, and for weeds that typically shed seed before the crop is ready to direct harvest.” Are there other herbicide options for crop desiccation if the current products are banned? In brief: Not really. In most instances, glyphosate is the most effective crop desiccant product. The details: Glyphosate is already a key component of cropping systems, particularly in no-till systems. In crops like mungbeans that have semi-indeterminant maturity traits that make them want to keep on growing, glyphosate applied at the label rate can give mixed results. The Australian Mungbean Association recently commissioned weeds researcher Dr Bhagirath Chauhan, QAFFI to investigate the efficacy of a range of possible alternatives to glyphosate as a desiccant, but there were no stand-out herbicide candidates. This small plot trial also included the non-herbicide option of swathing, and the results were very promising. Has anyone trialed swathing commercial mungbean crops? In brief: Yes. A grower on the Darling Downs trialed swathing two mungbean crops in March and April 2020, the first being 0.4 ha within a larger paddock that was desiccated with herbicide, and the second was an 8 ha block. The details: These two trial paddocks were very successful and the grower was encouraged by the yield and grain quality of the swathed areas. This has generated significant interest from other growers and agronomists in the northern grains region. The crops were swathed at the standard 90 per cent physiological maturity, the same timing used for chemical desiccation in mungbeans. Harvest was delayed in the 0.4 ha block due to two falls of rain, 12 mm and then 18 mm, which meant the windrows remained in the paddock for 14 days. The crop produced 1.6 t/ha of reasonable quality grain with no evidence of dust. Picking up the mungbean windrow after a two week delay due to wet weather. The crop in the 8 ha block was shorter and sparser than the small trial block. Four days after this block was windrowed it was harvested with a Smale pea front at the correct moisture, suggesting that low yielding crops with reduced dry matter could be harvested earlier. The crop yielded just below 1 t/ha of excellent quality grain, with very few pods being left on the ground. What are the potential benefits and costs of swathing? In brief: The costs will be very similar to chemical desiccation and there could be extra benefits as the practice is fine-tuned. Swathing and windrowing costs around $35 to $40 per ha, similar to chemical desiccation, but the operation may take more time. The details: The first benefit is the avoidance of pre-harvest chemical application, removing the potential for desiccant chemical residues in the grain. The second big benefit is that it may be possible to bring harvest forward. Even if swathing is done when the crop is 90 per cent physiologically mature, the same as for chemical desiccation, the crop can be harvested within a few days and could be off the paddock nearly two weeks earlier than a desiccated crop. The clincher is the possibility of swathing before the crop reaches 90 per cent maturity. If this can be done without compromising grain size and quality, it could have very significant benefits for weed control. Many weeds in the northern cropping region set seed before traditional desiccation and harvest time and so if the crop can be cut earlier there is a chance that less weed seed will mature. Weed seed heads present in the mungbean windrow. It is early days for the revival of swathing in the northern cropping region and there are many things to be tried and tested. Early successes have also been seen in sorghum, faba beans and chickpeas.
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How can I be certain that herbicide residues in the soil have fully degraded at planting?
In the course of a chemical fallow there are often several applications of herbicide and some residues may still be present on or near the soil surface when it is time to plant the next crop. In particularly dry years, residues may even carryover from the crop prior to the fallow. NSW Department of Primary Industries soil scientist, Dr Mick Rose, says there has been concern in recent years about the effect these residues may have on soil microbial activity and on the establishment and growth of crops following the fallow, even after the plant back period. Dr Mick Rose, DPI NSW soils researcher, is developing tests and predictive models to support growers in their decisions about crop choice after using residual herbicides. (Photo: GRDC). “Glyphosate has been the most commonly used knockdown herbicide in northern fallows for several decades and more recently growers have been looking to use more diverse programs that include chemicals with residual activity on weeds,” he says. “The increased use of imazapic and diuron have been of most concern to growers when choosing the next crop, particularly after a low rainfall fallow period.” With investment from GRDC, Mick has been working on a project led by Dr Michael Widderick from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland to develop a soil test for imazapic and diuron residues that will indicate damaging residue levels and help growers to decide which crops would be safe to plant in a paddock. “We are determining the threshold levels of residues of these two herbicides at which crop damage is likely for six crops, both winter and summer growing, in a range of soil types,” he says. In earlier work he also looked at the level of glyphosate residue in soils around the country at planting time and the impact these residues have on soil biological processes. “We found that residues of glyphosate were commonly detected in the soil at planting but there was no indication that the herbicide was adversely affecting soil biological activity,” says Mick. “This suggests that the label recommendations are suitable and the proper application of glyphosate in Australia is not posing a threat to soil health.” “For growers to be able to keep using glyphosate they need to implement the WeedSmart Big 6 strategy, including using diverse chemistry in fallows,” he says. “Residual herbicides are a useful tool for growers but there are some gaps in our knowledge about how these herbicides break down in different soils and under different seasonal conditions.” Why not just follow the plant back recommendations on the label? In brief: The label provides the minimum plant back period provided certain environmental conditions are met. There is a possibility of crop injury even though plant back periods are observed. The details: Many factors affect the bioavailability of a herbicide in the soil. For example, even though a clay soil and a sandy soil might have similar residue levels, more herbicide will be available for uptake in the sandy soil. More rain will increase the rate of breakdown, but it is not known exactly how much rain will ensure the specific soil is ‘safe’ to plant into. Another important factor is that many things can contribute to a germination failure. In some situations, residual herbicide may be suspected as the culprit, but can be difficult to either rule it in or out with certainty when diagnosing the reason for a problem at planting. If herbicide residues in the plant tissue can be shown to be phytotoxic, then another, less susceptible crop could be sown into the paddock. Dr Annie Ruttledge, DAF Qld weeds researcher, inspecting chickpea plants growing in soils containing different levels of imazapic and diuron herbicide residue. What effects can herbicide residues have on emerging crops? In brief: The herbicide itself can inhibit germination and growth, or it can exacerbate other factors, such as root disease. The details: At different levels of bioavailability, herbicide residues will have different effects on crop plants. If the herbicide is readily available to the plant, then susceptible crops will take it up from the soil and it can have phytotoxic effects ranging from suppressed vigour to yellowing and potentially plant death. Testing the plant tissue of a struggling crop can show if the leaves contain sufficient herbicide to have caused the observed symptoms. Some herbicide residues in soil can also ‘prune’ plant roots, particularly the fine roots that help access moisture and nutrients. Obviously, if the young plants are struggling to access resources then they will be less vigorous and possibly die. Damaged roots are also more susceptible to water stress, disease and poor nodulation in legumes, making it difficult to determine the initial cause of the problem in the field. If herbicide residues are shown to be the problem then a more tolerant crop can be sown, speeding up the breakdown of the residue and there will be more rainfall events before the next cropping season comes around. Seedling emergence and establishment is being measured for six crops (winter and summer) in the presence of different levels of herbicide. What pre-planting soil tests are being developed to give growers confidence to plant? In brief: The current project is establishing phytotoxicity thresholds for six summer and winter crops in a range of soil types, for two herbicides – imazapic and diuron. The details: By mid-2021 the aim is to have established the thresholds so that soil could be tested pre-plant to determine what crops would be safe to plant. This will give growers confidence to use these herbicides in a diverse strategy to manage weeds like feathertop Rhodes grass in the fallow, while avoiding germination or establishment failures in the following crop. Spray records play an important role in the management of these herbicides and mistakes can easily be made if the spray history for the past several years is not taken into account. In time, growers and their agronomists will gain a better understanding of how these herbicide residues behave in the soils on a particular property and will be able to make herbicide application and crop rotation decisions with more confidence. In another project with the Soil CRC, Mick is developing a predictive model for herbicide breakdown for a wider range of herbicides used in southern and western cropping systems. Until these tests and models become available, the use of an in-field or pot bioassay with a susceptible crop can be helpful in determining potential plant back issues. Related resources Herbicide residues in soil – the scale and significance (GRDC Update paper) Herbicide residues in soil (GRDC Podcast)
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What’s next in controlling herbicide resistant broadleaf weeds?
PBA Kelpie XT is the fifth lentil variety released with tolerance to Group B herbicides, imazamox and imazapyr, along with one IMI-tolerant faba bean. University of Adelaide weeds researcher and PhD candidate, Alicia Merriam, says resistance to the IMI herbicides and other Group B chemistry, particularly the sulfonylureas (SU), is making control of some broadleaf weeds very difficult. University of Adelaide weeds researcher and PhD candidate, Alicia Merriam says screening has shown resistance to IMI herbicides in over 75 per cent of populations of both weeds collected in random weed surveys in South Australia. “Imi-tolerant lentils have been very popular with growers and have increased the weed control options in this important crop, but resistance in sowthistle and prickly lettuce is very widespread in the southern region,” she says. “Screening has shown resistance to IMI herbicides in over 75 per cent of populations of both weeds.” With investment from GRDC and an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship, Alicia conducted a trial at two sites in South Australia to investigate options to implement the best practice recommendation for lentils – to control weeds in the preceding wheat crop and again at sowing or crop emergence in the lentils. Both sowthistle and prickly lettuce are renowned for their prolific seed production when growing in non-competitive situations and wind dispersal of seed enables recruitment of resistance from crop borders, and far beyond. Consequently, eradication is not a realistic proposition. “Sequencing the gene that controls resistance to Group B herbicides has uncovered a large variety of different mutations in these species across the Mid North and Yorke Peninsula in SA,” says Alicia. “Most mutations of this type cause SU resistance, but some cause IMI resistance and the effect can vary between weed species. Crucially, we found all these mutations within a single grower paddock, which shows that they are widely distributed.” “Crop rotation and increased crop competition are essential components of the WeedSmart Big 6 to help run down the seed bank and suppress seed production by all means available,” she says. “Herbicide tolerance in pulse crops is a useful tool when coupled with strong competition and other herbicide options in as many crops as possible in the rotation.” What is the current resistance status of sowthistle and prickly lettuce in the southern region? In brief: Widespread resistance to Group B SU and IMI chemistry exists in both these broadleaf weeds. The details: In surveys conducted in the Mid North and Yorke Peninsula regions the percentage of SU-resistant populations of prickly lettuce increased from 66 per cent in 1999 to 82 per cent in 2004 and 100 per cent in 2019. The populations screened in the 2019 survey were all resistant to Group B IMI chemistry. Sowthistle surveys in the Mid North and Yorke Peninsula have found SU resistance in 89 per cent of populations and IMI resistance in 76 per cent of populations. Surveys also show that Group B resistance in sowthistle is very common across the rest of the southern cropping region. Sample populations screened with SU and IMI herbicides where Population 1 is susceptible to SU and IMI herbicides, Population 2 is moderately resistant to SU but susceptible to IMI herbicides, and Population 3 is resistant to both these Group B herbicides. Did crop competition or herbicide treatments affect weed seed production in the wheat phase or weed numbers in the following crop? In brief: The herbicide treatments used in the 2018 wheat crop had an impact on the sowthistle population in the next crop, but had little effect on prickly lettuce. Crop competition treatments did not reduce weed density in the following growing season. The details: The weed populations at both sites were confirmed resistant to Group B herbicides but susceptible to glyphosate. The three in-crop treatments were 1. no in-crop herbicide, 2. ‘conventional’ herbicide application of metsulfuron-methyl (Ally) + MCPA and 3. ‘proactive’ herbicide application of bromoxynil + picolinafen + MCPA (Flight EC). Two levels of crop competition (seeding rate 60 and 90 kg/ha) were also applied. In the 2018 wheat crop the proactive treatment gave the best control of sowthistle in that crop and this resulted in a reduction in numbers in the 2019 crop. Although the conventional treatment provided some weed control benefit in the 2018 crop, the benefit did not flow on to the next crop, probably because the sowthistle population was resistant to the residual action of the metsulfuron-methyl component of the conventional treatment. The herbicide treatments both reduced prickly lettuce density better than the untreated option but there was no additional benefit from the more expensive proactive treatment in either the year of application or the following crop. Crop competition is a well-established practice for reducing weed seed production, so it was surprising to find that increased crop competition did not reduce weed numbers in the following year. This could be due to conditions in the year of the trial and the mobility of seed of these species. In less competitive situations (right) sowthistle and prickly lettuce produce vast quantities of seed whereas in competitive situations (left) seed production is considerably reduced. What’s the take-home message for using herbicide tolerant lentils in the rotation? In brief: Herbicide tolerant crops are an important tool but must complement a diverse arsenal of weed control tactics. Short rotations are a very risky option and will lead to yield-reducing numbers of these prolific seeding weeds. The details: Sowthistle and prickly lettuce can be expected to become increasingly difficult to control in the lentil phase. Neither crop competition nor proactive herbicide regimes alone are likely to provide sufficient downward pressure on these weeds in a short rotation. Building in a longer break away from lentils is likely to be a more effective strategy. The number of different resistance mutations found in the cropping regions of the Mid North and Yorke Peninsula show that Group B resistance is widespread, and here to stay. This highlights the importance of diversity in crop and herbicide groups rotations, including the strategic use of herbicide tolerant crops. The new Group G herbicide Reflex, with planned registration for IBS (knife point press wheel) application in lentils, will also be a welcome addition to improve weed control options in this crop. Further resources Common sowthistle and prickly lettuce in lentil crops of southern australia – Managing herbicide resistance and highly mobile resistance genes, GRDC Update paper Feb 2020
Crop competition – give your crops the edge
The uncomfortable truth is that in many paddocks the weeds are winning the battles for space and resources. Growing crops that out-compete weeds gives a double whammy benefit of more crop and less weeds — generating more profit! Try some or all of these ideas to give your cropping system the competitive advantage: Get the soil pH right and do what you can to improve overall crop nutrition Set up your planter to sow crops on the narrowest row configuration possible within the other constraints of crop production Sow within the optimal planting window for the crop and your location Choose the most competitive crop type (e.g. barley over wheat) and the most competitive variety or hybrid of your chosen crop Select crops with early vigorous growth Set the crop up for success with optimal weed control prior to planting, using double knock tactics and effective pre-emergent herbicides Sow east-west rather than north-south if you can Use sowing rates at the upper end of the recommended range for the crop And here’s more advice from the WeedSmart crop competition experts: Can planting a tight crop improve weed control? Use your crop as a weapon Using your crop to fight weeds Webinar with Prof Deirdre Lemerle: Using your crop to fight weeds Up the competition Employ crop competitiveness to combat weeds Higher seeding rates lower weeds Narrow row spacing: is it worth going back? AHRI insight: Sow west young man AHRI insight: Left jab, right hook AHRI insight: Heal thy soil, heal thy crops, kill thy weeds
Harvest tips, crop topping + trifluralin resistance
Development Officer at Merredin Research Station Glen Riethmuller gives some useful insights into harvesting low, crop lifters and also discusses crop topping. We also hear from Meckering farmer Darren Morrell. He recently received resistance test results which showed one of the farms he is leasing has 80% trifluralin resistance. Darren talks about what tactics he’ll be using to get on top of the weed problem he is now facing. Listen to the podcast below. Glen Riethmuller at Merredin Research Station
Crop topping, using Sharpen & getting ready for harvest
In the podcast this week, we focus on crop topping and the relatively new herbicide, Sharpen. In our last podcast, Andrew Messina talked to us about Case IH harvester set-up. This week farmer Lance Turner gives us the rundown on John Deere gear. AHRI and WeedSmart Agronomist Greg Condon talks to us about the benefits of crop topping and what to do if you suspect you’ve got herbicide resistance. We also hear from BASF Technical Services Manager, Phil Hoult, about the herbicide Sharpen. It’s now registered as a harvest aid in winter pulses, for winter cleaning of Lucerne and for wild radish seed-set control in winter cereals, so we’ll find out in more detail about its applications for broadacre croppers.
Spray drift & crop competition
Join your hosts Jessica Strauss and Peter Newman in the first podcast for March! Spraying weeds and choosing seeds are the hot topics this podcast. We chat with Nufarm Australia Spray Application Specialist Bill Gordon, who gives some great tips and insights on correct set-up. Rohan Brill also joins us for insight on choosing canola seeds and the benefits of crop competition! Our webinar series is also kicking off for 2017 next week! If you’d like to register for the March 7 webinar with Rohan Brill, who will be going into more detail on crop competition, click here!
Post emergent herbicides
Part 1: Spray small radish twice Western Australian research reveals that careful timing, effective application and using different herbicide groups are more important than product choice for controlling wild radish. A range of herbicide combinations can provide effective control of herbicide-resistant wild radish if small plants were sprayed twice and attention is given to achieving good herbicide coverage. Peter Newman (Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative) and agronomist Grant Thompson (Crop Circle Consulting) discuss the results of their wild radish research. Resources Spray resistant radish early for best efficacy and yield (Grant Thompson, Crop Updates paper 2014) Herbicide resistant wild radish (Peter Newman) Controlling herbicide resistant Wild Radish in wheat in the Northern Agricultural Region of WA with a two spray strategy (Peter Newman) Diverse weed control: Left jab, right hook (AHRI insight) Part 2: When is it worth rotating from clethodim (Select®) to butroxydim (Factor®)? Is there any value in rotating the post-emergent herbicides clethodim (Select®) and butroxydim (Factor®)? The research suggests that Factor® will sometimes kill plants that are moderately-resistant to Select® that could help in driving down the weed seed bank. Dr Peter Boutsalis from the University of Adelaide discusses his latest research and observations using both products with AHRI’s Peter Newman.
Increase pre-em efficacy through a mix and rotate strategy
Have you got the best and most cost efficient strategy to nuke your weeds before seeding? The case is clear: summer weed control is essential! Controlling weeds through summer and prior to seeding is key to securing moisture and nitrogen for the following crop. Part 1: Control summer weeds for yield and profit Every $1 spent on summer weed control can potentially return up to $8/ha through moisture and nitrogen conservation. The impact on grain yield as a result of various summer weed control treatments is what Colin McMaster (NSW DPI R&D) refers to as “buying a spring”. Listen to Colin and Pete Newman (AHRI) as they investigate the $$ benefits of controlling summer weeds. Part 2: Increase pre-em efficacy through a mix and rotate strategy We’ve done a good job of promoting herbicide rotation over the years. And whilst this advice still stands, recent research shows the benefits of mixing herbicides as well. As American weeds researcher, Pat Tranel, puts it, “rotating buys you time, mixing buys you shots (of herbicide)”. Listen to Pat and Pete as they explore the benefits of the mix and rotate strategy.