Harvest weed seed control key to overcoming resistance
Controlling weed seeds at harvest is emerging as the key to managing the rising herbicide resistance levels putting Australia’s no till farming system at risk. Peter Newman, Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) communications leader told the recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Update at Narromine, NSW that herbicides are not the answer to herbicide resistance. “Removing weed seeds at harvest is currently our greatest non-herbicide weed control tool in Australian grain cropping,” Mr Newman said. “This practice is now widely adopted in the form of narrow windrow burning, chaff cart, bale direct, diverting weed seeds onto permanent tramlines, and now the Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD) developed with assistance from the GRDC. “All of these tools are equally effective at removing weed seeds, averaging 55 per cent removal of annual ryegrass seeds according to GRDC-funded AHRI research. “They all differ in their cost and the amount of residue that they remove from the paddock.” Mr Newman told central west NSW growers and advisers data from a selection of 24 focus paddocks where the growers are cropping dominant with no livestock in the farming system showed positive trends over 12 years. “Growers in the focus paddocks using harvest weed seed control reduced ryegrass levels from 183 ryegrass plants per square metre in 2001 to close to zero in 2008 and they have maintained these levels ever since, demonstrating the benefits of removing weed seeds at harvest. “It is quite remarkable that growers have been so successful at eroding annual ryegrass seed banks of paddocks, while maintaining a cropping intensity of 88pc.” Mr Newman says many of the original messages about managing herbicide resistance in 1990s were built around the concept of phase farming, however research shows it is possible to crop at high intensity while eroding the weed seed bank despite high levels of herbicide resistance. “Growers who have had the most success at managing ryegrass populations are those who have practiced harvest weed seed control in the form of narrow windrow burning or by towing a chaff cart,” he said. “Harvest weed seed control does not fix a system that is broken but can be the key to making a system work.” To view a video or listen to audio of Peter Newman discussing harvest weed seed control strategies, visit www.grdc.com.au/MR-HarvestWeedSeedControl. For more information on GRDC-funded research, visit www.grdc.com.au.
Wise up to your weed status
Landholders are urged to monitor the effectiveness of herbicide sprays and to act quickly to test surviving patches of weeds for resistance. Dr Michael Widderick, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland (DAFFQ) principal research scientist says knowing the status of weed populations may surprise some farmers but allows them to devise a better weed management strategy. “Herbicide resistance testing is very important; you need to know what herbicides are still effective on the weeds you are trying to control,” Dr Widderick said. “For example, if you’ve been relying on glyphosate for a number of years to control awnless barnyard grass and you find it’s not working as well as it used to and leaving patches of survivors, testing samples can give you a better picture of what herbicides are and aren’t working. “From there you can devise a strategy for stopping seed set but if you apply herbicides that are not effective you might as well pour your money down the drain.” There are two testing services available in Australia: Charles Sturt University (CSU), Wagga Wagga, NSW predominately tests weed seed samples; and Dr Peter Boutsalis’s Plant Science Consulting in South Australia tests both seed and plant samples. Dr Widderick advises farmers who are concerned or already experiencing herbicide failures in-paddock to collect seed from the suspected resistant patch or across the paddock in order to evaluate a range of different herbicides on their efficacy in controlling the weed species. “If you’ve had a herbicide failure you’ll often see patches of weeds that survive so collect seeds from several plants,” he said. “For a species such as barnyard grass, for example, you’ll need to collect about two tablespoons of viable seed. You’ll know they are if viable if they fall off the barnyard plant quite easily. “Collect the seeds and place them in an envelope or paper bag, but not in something that will sweat and keep the seed moist, and send for testing.” The Quick Test is a plant test predominately used for grass weed species such as awnless barnyard grass. “Collect plants that are between the early to late tillering stage. About 50 to 100 plants will need to be pulled up, quite a large number,” Dr Widderick said. “Wash off the roots and wrap in a moist but not drenched paper towel, put those samples in a plastic bag to retain the moisture and send it to the testing service.” DAFF weed researchers have teamed with the Northern Grower Alliance (NGA), funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), NSW Department of Primary Industries, Tamworth to launch a survey of awnless barnyard grass glyphosate resistance levels. An alarming 50 per cent of populations tested in the pre-glyphosate application random sample were resistant to glyphosate, Dr Widderick said. A second survey was done following the treatment of glyphosate and survivors were gathered. “From that survey we found that 90pc of the populations came back as having glyphosate resistant plants,” he said. The next step is to explore further the level of resistance within these populations and extend the survey to cropping areas in western NSW and Queensland and into Central Queensland. “We always suspected there were barnyard grass populations with high levels of glyphosate resistance but to get 50pc from that first survey was quite alarming because we didn’t expect it to be that high,” Dr Widderick said. The recommendation to test for resistance is an important part of the WeedSmart campaign which aims to galvanise the Australian cropping industry against herbicide resistance. WeedSmart brings together industry organisations including GRDC, research providers and major crop input firms to deliver the message that herbicide resistance is a difficult but not insurmountable problem – but changes need to occur on-farm. For more information on testing services, visit www.plantscienceconsulting.com or www.csu.edu.au. For more information on herbicide sustainability practices, visit www.grdc.com.au.
Glyphosate resistance in S halepense and L rigidum is reduced at suboptimal growing temperatures
By Martin M Vila-Aiub, Pedro E Gundel, Qin Yu and Stephen B Powles Just published AHRI research paper entitled “Glyphosate resistance in S halepense and L rigidum is reduced at suboptimal growing temperatures“. This research was conducted with glyphosate resistant biotypes of tropical S halepense and temperate L rigidum in which we had established that the reduced glyphosate translocation resistance mechanism is present. These biotypes do not appear to have any target site EPSPS gene mutations. Good work from the Sammons laboratory at Monsanto has demonstrated with glyphosate resistant Conyza biotypes with the reduced glyphosate translocation resistance mechanism (increased vacuolar sequestration) that the level of glyphosate resistance is considerably lower at low temperatures. Here we examined the temperature dependence of glyphosate resistance in tropical warm season S halepense versus temperate cool season L rigidum biotypes with the reduced glyphosate translocation resistance mechanism. With these contrasting warm season versus cool season species the results are very clear that glyphosate resistance level is temperature dependent in that the reduced glyphosate translocation resistance mechanism is inefficient at low temperatures. This is good confirmation of the results of Sammons et al and extends the observations to the warm season S halepense. Indeed, in some cases, it may be possible to achieve control of glyphosate resistant biotypes with this reduced translocation resistance mechanism if plants can be treated at times of low temperature. To read more click here.
Resist resistance with double knockdown
Growers can take steps in coming weeks to help keep the precious knockdown herbicide glyphosate working on their farms, according to the Australian Glyphosate Sustainability Working Group (AGSWG). The AGSWG – a collaborative initiative supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) – says reducing the number of weeds that growers have to deal with in-crop will help keep glyphosate an effective herbicide. “To achieve this growers can use tactics such as the double knockdown – two applications of knockdown herbicides used within 10 days of each other – such as glyphosate followed by paraquat,” AGSWG executive officer Andrew Storrie said. “The aim of the second herbicide is to kill any survivors of the first application. These weeds might be resistant to glyphosate. “Using measures such as the double knockdown will help local growers avoid the scenario facing their counterparts in the United States and Canada, where an over-reliance on glyphosate has led to big problems with herbicide resistance, with 49 per cent of grain growers surveyed believing they have glyphosate resistant weeds.” Mr Storrie said more than 20 cases of glyphosate resistance had been confirmed to date in Western Australia’s winter grains systems, and believed many more infestations were going unreported. He said glyphosate should be applied at the full label rate to help reduce the risk of any weeds surviving it, and sprayed at the right time – in the case of annual ryegrass, when it had reached the two to three leaf stage. “Annual ryegrass plants that survive being sprayed with glyphosate should be collected and laboratory tested for herbicide resistance, so growers can confirm which herbicides remain effective on them,” Mr Storrie said. “Herbicide resistance testing can be arranged through your agronomist or local farm supply agent. “The second knockdown herbicide application should be a robust rate of Spray.Seed® or paraquat but can include the pre-emergent herbicides trifluralin or Boxer Gold®. “The price of paraquat has dropped significantly, making its use in a double knock strategy much more cost effective. “Annual ryegrass plants which survive being sprayed with paraquat should be killed using whatever means is possible before seeding the crop.” Mr Storrie said that if small weeds had not been controlled by an early application of a knockdown herbicide, they would be harder to kill. “Growers in this situation may have to consider delaying seeding in these paddocks so they can apply a second knockdown herbicide,” he said. For more information on managing glyphosate resistance visit the AGSWG website www.glyphosateresistance.org.au You can download the GRDC Glyphosate Resistance Fact Sheet at www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-FS-GlyphosateResistance, while the GRDC Ground Cover supplement Making Herbicides Last will be included in the May-June edition of Ground Cover. Visit www.grdc.com.au/groundcover to sign up for or download Ground Cover.
Create & burn narrow windrows
The best option to maximise the weed seed bank is to harvest high and spread all of the weed seeds evenly over the paddock. This will give you something to spray next year. If you, like most others, feel that this is a bad idea, it may be time to start narrow windrow burning. Narrow windrow burning is a good place to start to see if this harvest weed seed control caper is all it is cracked up to be. The first step is to spend some time familiarising yourself with a beer can. The internationally accepted harvest height when trying to capture weed seeds is the height of an Australian beer can. The next step is to work out how to modify your harvester to make narrow windrows. It’s easier than you think! Below are a number of videos and materials to help get you started. Remember to keep an eye on this page – we’ll be keeping you up to date with everything related to windrow burning. Windrow chute CAD drawings PocketFire app AccuFire Broadacre Firelighter Narrow windrow burning financials factsheet Narrow windrow burning in southern NSW Chris and Elise Bunny feature: Windrow burning – it’s got to be hot Sensitivity analysis – grain yield factsheet AHRI insight: Tips AHRI insight: Burning wet windrows AHRI insight: Rules of thumb (weed seed retention at harvest) AHRI insight: Spoiled rotten (all HWSC) AHRI insight: To win the war you must win the battles (all HWSC) GRDC IWM hub: managing weeds at harvest