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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) 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 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 As 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 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 Watch Tim Pohlner’s presentation at WeedSmart Week 2019 (please note that new products have since been released):
Article
News

Make seedbank management your priority this year

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.
Article
Case Study

Jason Rogers, Moree NSW

Jason Rogers targets summer grasses when they are small and fresh using a double knock of glyphosate and paraquat. In recent years he has moved into applying residual herbicides soon after harvest and GPS-marking any suspect weed patches to be treated with spot spraying or strategic tillage. Jason is also mixing and rotating fallow sprays to extend the efficacy of all available modes of action. Keeping weed numbers down, managing patches and minimising weed seed set has been a high priority for Jason Rogers, Moree. Barley and Clearfield canola provide early canopy closure and the strongest crop competition for winter weeds. Any isolated weed escapes in summer fallows or winter crops are targeted with spot spraying or chipping to maintain the low weed numbers. Jason runs a dryland winter cropping operation on fairly uniform heavy clay soils on his farms north-west of Moree. The crop rotation across seven fields in the controlled traffic system includes wheat, barley, chickpea, canola, linseed. He no longer grows summer crops due to seasonal constraints during the extended drought and poor returns. “Normally we grow wheat followed by barley, which gives a good amount of ground cover, and then one of the three break crops – canola, chickpea or linseed,” he says. “We have been looking at the possibility of fitting in a double-break of, say linseed and chickpea before returning to cereals.” The advantage would be to help take pressure off the selective herbicides in the cereal phase and mix things up a bit, but Jason is also conscious of the reduction in ground cover from a double break crop. The main weeds in the summer fallow are glyphosate-tolerant summer grasses such as windmill grass, awnless barnyard grass and feathertop Rhodes grass. Broadleaf weeds like fleabane, sowthistle and peach vine also pose a challenge, particularly because Group I hormone herbicides can not be used when nearby cotton crops are at sensitive growth stages. “We are mixing and rotating herbicide groups as much as possible and using more residual chemistry, to keep weed numbers low in the fallow,” he says. “This can have impacts on the rotation so we work with our agronomist to plan well head to make sure the residuals have broken down enough to not cause any issues for the following crop.” The fallow weed management program usually begins with a residual herbicide applied after harvest and then the double knock tactic is deployed multiple times during summer following any rainfall events. Jason uses IMI residuals applied after barley harvest to give residual control of grasses over summer and then returns with a Clearfield canola crop the next winter. He then avoids using the Group B chemistry for a few years to extend its useful life in his weed control program. For the double knock, glyphosate is often applied in a tank-mix with a Group G to help with broadleaf weed control, particularly near cotton paddocks. “We like to get in early to treat small fresh weeds, and come back a week or so later with paraquat,” says Jason. “When dealing with predominantly glyphosate-tolerant weed species we know how important it is to prevent weeds getting too mature. If persistent wet weather means we can’t get a ground application done in time we don’t hesitate to arrange a plane to apply the herbicide.” Jason does all the spray operations himself and takes the opportunity to map weedy patches using the John Deere software in the tractor as he travels across the paddocks. He has set up customised flags for each of the main weeds, such as feathertop Rhodes grass, windmill grass and awnless barnyard grass so he can monitor any hotspots. He then comes back to treat patches of say up to 10 m2, with strategic tillage using a chisel plough, spot spraying herbicide, or hand rouging or chipping. Jason also uses the flags to generate coordinates that he can easily send to his agronomist in Google Maps. For winter weeds Jason finds the diversity of the crop rotation allows for effective rotation of herbicide mode of action groups and the early vigour of canola and barley assists with weed suppression. “Using hybrid Clearfield canola varieties in the rotation gives us the ability to safely use the imi herbicides in the preceding fallow and in-crop as well as providing early canopy closure so very few weeds can grow and set seed in the canola phase,” says Jason. “Similarly in the barley, we get a free kick from solid crop competition through early vigour and high biomass production.” Jason has used a disc seeder since 2000 with a minimum row spacing of 375 mm in their 3 m wheel spacing controlled traffic system. Jason has used a disc seeder since 2000 with a minimum row spacing of 375 mm in their 3 m wheel spacing controlled traffic system. The high capital and maintenance cost of the seeder has been a disincentive to move to narrower rows however Jason knows there are potential weed control benefits in reducing the row spacing. Keeping weed numbers down, managing patches and minimising weed seed set has been a high priority for Jason and his integrated weed management program is working well. An important part of the program is a robust mix and rotate program to keep all available herbicide options open for as long as possible.
Article
News

Resistance amplifies glyphosate + 2,4-D tank mix survival rate

You can listen to this article being read above! WeedSmart extension agronomist, Peter Newman is urging growers to think twice before mixing glyphosate with 2,4-D when treating weeds with low to medium levels of resistance to glyphosate. Antagonism between the two products has been widely known for some time and in most circumstances careful product choice and a slight rate adjustment is all that is required to compensate for the compromised performance of glyphosate. New research from the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) has shown that high label rates of glyphosate can often control grass weeds with low level glyphosate resistance; but adding 2,4-D amine or ester to the glyphosate can result in these weeds surviving the spray. Once low to medium glyphosate resistance has established in a population of awnless barnyard grass, using a tank mix of glyphosate and 2,4-D is not going to work. With investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation and others, AHRI researcher Jingbo Li and others studied two populations of awnless barnyard grass with relatively low-level glyphosate resistance and found this phenomenon is due to the 2,4-D dramatically affecting uptake and translocation of glyphosate from the tank mix. “For awnless barnyard grass a susceptible population was 100 per cent controlled using 0.5 L/ha glyphosate 540 while 11 per cent survived when the same rate of glyphosate was mixed with 1 L/ha of 2,4-D amine 700,” says Peter. “For the low-level resistant population, a higher rate of 1 L/ha of glyphosate was required to achieve 100 per cent control but when this rate of glyphosate was mixed with the 1 L/ha of 2,4-D amine, 90 per cent of the weeds survived. A similar result was found using 2,4-D ester.” Survival of awnless barnyard grass seedlings with low level resistance to glyphosate. Left: Zero survival from 1 L/ha Glyphosate 540 application. Right: 85 per cent survival to 1 L/ha Glyphosate 540 + 1.03 L/ha 2,4-D Ester 680 mixture. In another, more resistant, population of awnless barnyard grass the same scenario played out, albeit with an even higher rate of 3 L/ha of glyphosate to achieve 100 per cent control. In this population the survival rate was 77 per cent for the tank mix. “What this means for growers is that once glyphosate resistance has established in a grass weed population, using this particular tank mix is not going to work,” says Peter. “A grower with glyphosate resistant grass weeds would be better served by applying the higher rate of glyphosate on its own, or perhaps with a different mixing partner, to achieve maximum control. It is then necessary to look at building in additional tactics to keep weed numbers low into the future with less reliance on glyphosate.” While not examined in this study, 2,4-D antagonism of glyphosate is reported on several other species including Johnson grass, wheat, barley and wild oats. 2,4-D is also reported as antagonistic of Group A herbicides on species such as wild oats and annual ryegrass. Although mixing these two herbicides can provide a valuable multi-shot control of both grass and broadleaf weeds, the pros and cons need to be carefully evaluated. “The other thing to remember is that the maximum level of control when using glyphosate is achieved when the best formulation is applied to young weeds at higher label rates,” says Peter. “These factors are generally within the grower’s control, even if they cannot control the weather conditions or plant stress levels, which also impact on glyphosate efficacy.” To keep glyphosate as a viable option into the future Peter also recommends applying a double knock tactic after each application of glyphosate. He says following glyphosate with paraquat has been an effective double knock for many years but there are other options to consider, including strategic tillage and alternative herbicides. Other resources AHRI Insight: 2,4-D antagonises glyphosate, especially in glyphosate resistant weeds

Podcasts

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Podcast

Regional Update – Paul MacIntosh, Northern Region

Paul provides a great overview of what’s happening in the region and what to look out for over the next few weeks when it comes to controlling weeds.
Audio
Podcast

Narrower sorghum rows can halve weed seed production

WEBINAR We’ve got a timely webinar coming up on Group Gs on Friday, Feb 26. Uni of Adelaide’s Dr Chris Preston & our Southern Extension Agronomist Greg Condon will be hosting this webinar aimed at growers. If you’ve got any specific questions about this, let us know on Twitter, and make sure to join us on the day where you can ask them live. You can register here. ARTICLES Our latest news piece looks at making seedbank management your priority this year. Another recent article looks at taking resistance into account when planning tank mixes. PODCAST LINKS Soil amelioration article. Sorghum article. _____________________________________________________________ Podcast Producer: Jessica Strauss Podcast Hosts: Jessica Strauss & Peter Newman
Audio
Podcast

Regional Update – Nick McKenna, Geraldton, WA

This is our first Regional Update for the Western Region in 2021. Planfarm Agronomist, Nick McKenna joins us to give an overview of how harvest went for his region in and around the Geraldton area. He also provides some tips on how to control weeds given the likelihood of some rain falling due to a tropical low tracking down the WA coast.

Case Studies

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Article
Case Study

Jason Rogers, Moree NSW

Jason Rogers targets summer grasses when they are small and fresh using a double knock of glyphosate and paraquat. In recent years he has moved into applying residual herbicides soon after harvest and GPS-marking any suspect weed patches to be treated with spot spraying or strategic tillage. Jason is also mixing and rotating fallow sprays to extend the efficacy of all available modes of action. Keeping weed numbers down, managing patches and minimising weed seed set has been a high priority for Jason Rogers, Moree. Barley and Clearfield canola provide early canopy closure and the strongest crop competition for winter weeds. Any isolated weed escapes in summer fallows or winter crops are targeted with spot spraying or chipping to maintain the low weed numbers. Jason runs a dryland winter cropping operation on fairly uniform heavy clay soils on his farms north-west of Moree. The crop rotation across seven fields in the controlled traffic system includes wheat, barley, chickpea, canola, linseed. He no longer grows summer crops due to seasonal constraints during the extended drought and poor returns. “Normally we grow wheat followed by barley, which gives a good amount of ground cover, and then one of the three break crops – canola, chickpea or linseed,” he says. “We have been looking at the possibility of fitting in a double-break of, say linseed and chickpea before returning to cereals.” The advantage would be to help take pressure off the selective herbicides in the cereal phase and mix things up a bit, but Jason is also conscious of the reduction in ground cover from a double break crop. The main weeds in the summer fallow are glyphosate-tolerant summer grasses such as windmill grass, awnless barnyard grass and feathertop Rhodes grass. Broadleaf weeds like fleabane, sowthistle and peach vine also pose a challenge, particularly because Group I hormone herbicides can not be used when nearby cotton crops are at sensitive growth stages. “We are mixing and rotating herbicide groups as much as possible and using more residual chemistry, to keep weed numbers low in the fallow,” he says. “This can have impacts on the rotation so we work with our agronomist to plan well head to make sure the residuals have broken down enough to not cause any issues for the following crop.” The fallow weed management program usually begins with a residual herbicide applied after harvest and then the double knock tactic is deployed multiple times during summer following any rainfall events. Jason uses IMI residuals applied after barley harvest to give residual control of grasses over summer and then returns with a Clearfield canola crop the next winter. He then avoids using the Group B chemistry for a few years to extend its useful life in his weed control program. For the double knock, glyphosate is often applied in a tank-mix with a Group G to help with broadleaf weed control, particularly near cotton paddocks. “We like to get in early to treat small fresh weeds, and come back a week or so later with paraquat,” says Jason. “When dealing with predominantly glyphosate-tolerant weed species we know how important it is to prevent weeds getting too mature. If persistent wet weather means we can’t get a ground application done in time we don’t hesitate to arrange a plane to apply the herbicide.” Jason does all the spray operations himself and takes the opportunity to map weedy patches using the John Deere software in the tractor as he travels across the paddocks. He has set up customised flags for each of the main weeds, such as feathertop Rhodes grass, windmill grass and awnless barnyard grass so he can monitor any hotspots. He then comes back to treat patches of say up to 10 m2, with strategic tillage using a chisel plough, spot spraying herbicide, or hand rouging or chipping. Jason also uses the flags to generate coordinates that he can easily send to his agronomist in Google Maps. For winter weeds Jason finds the diversity of the crop rotation allows for effective rotation of herbicide mode of action groups and the early vigour of canola and barley assists with weed suppression. “Using hybrid Clearfield canola varieties in the rotation gives us the ability to safely use the imi herbicides in the preceding fallow and in-crop as well as providing early canopy closure so very few weeds can grow and set seed in the canola phase,” says Jason. “Similarly in the barley, we get a free kick from solid crop competition through early vigour and high biomass production.” Jason has used a disc seeder since 2000 with a minimum row spacing of 375 mm in their 3 m wheel spacing controlled traffic system. Jason has used a disc seeder since 2000 with a minimum row spacing of 375 mm in their 3 m wheel spacing controlled traffic system. The high capital and maintenance cost of the seeder has been a disincentive to move to narrower rows however Jason knows there are potential weed control benefits in reducing the row spacing. Keeping weed numbers down, managing patches and minimising weed seed set has been a high priority for Jason and his integrated weed management program is working well. An important part of the program is a robust mix and rotate program to keep all available herbicide options open for as long as possible.
Article
Case Study

Andrew Kenny, Badgingarra WA

Listen to the article being read above! Andrew and Gina Kenny farm at Badgingarra, in WA’s west midlands using an integrated program of crop rotation, mouldboard ploughing, grazing and chaff lining to keep their weed numbers very low. Andrew’s parents, Mike and Sara, arrived in the Badgingarra district to farm in 1959 and started clearing the land for cropping, at about the same time cropping land was also being developed around Esperance. Badgingarra farmer, Andrew Kenny has used TT, and more recently RR, canola to take advantage of different chemistry and weed control tactics. “There is a fault line that runs through the property with distinct soil types on either side,” says Andrew. “On one side of the line is our best cropping soil – clay through to pea gravel; on the other side is white sand with very limited water holding capacity, which we use mainly for grazing.”   Grazing to maximise productivity About 60 per cent of the 4150 ha property is used for continuous cropping and the rest for grazing sheep. The Kennys grow some hay for their own use and the sheep also graze the crops – mainly barley, and sometimes wheat and canola – from mid-June to mid-August. For over ten years the Kennys have run 5500 ewes in two flocks – a 4000-ewe self-replacing merino flock and 1500 Prime SAMM ewes mated to Poll Dorset terminal sires. Producing both wool and meat, the sheep are an important component in the business. SAMM are a dual-purpose sheep that was later further developed to produce a heavy slaughter lamb at a young age, as well as good quality wool. “We grow mainly Bass and Planet barley, which we will graze two or three times with 2500 hoggets before allowing it to finish for grain,” he says. “These varieties both tiller well and respond quickly after grazing to the first node stage.” Sheep utilise 40 per cent of the farm where the sandy soils do not retain sufficient moisture for cropping. The Kennys retain lupin seed, make hay, graze crops, chaff lines and stubbles and use the sheep to provide a double knock effect. Low weed numbers allows dry sowing Once the season breaks, the Badgingarra area can generally rely on good rainfall through the growing season. In 2018 there was a late break, resulting in Andrew taking a risk and sowing 75 per cent of their crop dry. That year he saw the benefits of earlier sowing and is confident that their weed numbers are now low enough to make dry sowing a safe practice. “On the heavier soils we grow canola, wheat and barley. Sandier soils that are lower in the landscape have better nutrient levels than those at the top of the landscape, and are suitable for cropping lupin, wheat and barley.” Barley has been a consistently strong performer in recent years so the area has increased. Lupins provide a good break from cereals and provide a high protein feed that is easy to store on farm and kept primarily as a drought reserve. The Kennys introduced canola to their cropping program in the 1990s and have used TT canola, swathing and spraying under the swather with glyphosate as key tools in their weed control program. They also crop top Barlock lupins to stop seed set. Andrew rotates herbicide modes of action through the crop cycle, particularly with the pre-emergent chemistry – using propyzamide in lupin, trifluralin in canola, Sakura in wheat and trifluralin + metribuzin in barley. He also targets weeds ahead of seeding with a double knock of glyphosate then paraquat, or uses Spray.Seed®(paraquat/diquat) on its own. In weedy paddocks Andrew avoids growing two barley crops in a row, choosing instead to switch to canola or lupins to utilise other herbicide MOA, but in paddocks with very low weed numbers he will occasionally grow barley on barley to boost profitability. With few in-crop options for ryegrass control, Andrew relies on having clean paddocks at seeding and robust pre-emergents. To ensure the crops get off to a good start, Andrew buys in hybrid canola seed and uses a mobile contract seed cleaner to clean farm-retained cereal and lupin seed. He has increased crop competition using a paired row boot on a 30 cm spaced tyne bar to give an effective row spacing of 7.5 cm. “The tynes are custom built and we use them for sowing all our crops,” he says. “They probably work best in the cereals, but we don’t have any problems in the other crops either. The aim is to do everything we can to increase crop germination, which gives us more crop and less weeds for the same amount of effort.”   Burying glyphosate resistance Andrew says annual ryegrass and wild radish continue to be their most challenging weeds and he has recently added RR Truflex canola hybrid to the rotation to give more options to use glyphosate. “I am very conscious of the risk of accelerating glyphosate resistance and so we also use mouldboard ploughing to bury glyphosate resistant weed seeds and improve the wettability of the sandy soils,” he says. “Mouldboard ploughing has fixed non-wetting issues wherever we have used it and this improves crop germination, but on the very sandy soil fixing the non-wetting is not enough to sustain cropping, so these poorer soils remain under pasture.” The benefits of mouldboard ploughing for weed control varies according to soil type. Andrew has seen it most effective on their sandy soils but found it difficult to achieve full inversion on the gravel country.   Chaff lining suits sheep Ten years ago Andrew began narrow windrow burning for harvest weed seed control, mainly in cereals and only in weedy paddocks. They had good results in weedy paddocks but after eight years Andrew was looking for an alternative that would have less impact on nutrients and require less labour. “We graze the stubbles over summer and the sheep would make tracks through the narrow windrows, which increased the number of places the windrows needed to be lit,” he says. “In 2017 we decided to give chaff lining a go.” Although the farm is not set up for controlled traffic, Andrew does run the harvester on the same lines each year, allowing him to place the weed seed in the same place each season. With the chaff lining chute as a semi-permanent modification to the harvester, Andrew is now able to implement HWSC in all crops and all paddocks. With the chaff lining chute as a semi-permanent modification to the harvester, Andrew is now able to implement HWSC in all crops and all paddocks – he can just forget that it’s there! “The chute, baffle and spreader chopper were fabricated and fitted for around $6000,” he says. In addition to concentrating the weed seed, chaff lining also concentrates any crop seed losses out the back of the harvester. This means the sheep can make use of any lost grain and Andrew expects the productivity gains from chaff lining would be similar to that measured for chaff dumps. “In 2018 we had a high level of weed germination in the chaff lines but we did not treat them differently to the rest of the paddock,” says Andrew. “The chaff chute left clumps in the paddock and I thought this might lead to seeding blockages, but in reality, the tyne seeder easily worked through the fine chaff material.” Andrew expects there would be some rotting of the chaff and weed seeds in years with wetter summers, but this has not yet been put to the test. What is evident though is the impact of higher soil moisture retention under the chaff lines. Sheep graze the stubbles and do a good job of stopping seed set on any green ryegrass that escaped capture at harvest. The sheep also reduce the overall stubble load and trample the chaff lines, making sowing easier.   Other resources Podcast – Mouldboarding + Chafflining + Grazing
Article
Case Study

Mat Freeman, Walkaway WA

You can listen to the article being read above! Mat Freeman farms an aggregation of cropping properties at Mullewa and Walkaway in the Geraldton Port Zone of WA. Across the aggregation he has been systematically mouldboard ploughing since 2011 to tackle the non-wetting sands, and deep ripping has been practiced for around 30 years to alleviate compaction. While fixing the constraints associated with non-wetting sands is the primary reason for mouldboard ploughing, there is also a weed control benefit. Mat Freeman, Walkaway WA has used mouldboard ploughing to fix non-wetting sands and bury weed seeds. “Having effectively buried the weed seed bank with the mouldboard ploughing, the plan is to leave the subsoil undisturbed for as long as possible,” he says. “Hard-seeded weeds such as wild radish can remain viable in the soil for several years and can germinate if they are brought back up to near the soil surface.” Inverting the profile buries weed seed and brings some clay up from depth. Annual ryegrass and wild radish are the main weed species on the farm and Mat is making the most of the re-set value of mouldboard ploughing to keep weed numbers low going forward. Effective amelioration operation To achieve full inversion of the soil profile, the soil needs to be moist. The amelioration program also involves the removal of obstacles, applying limesand and then ploughing to a depth of about 35 cm. This is usually done after a lupin crop where there is the least amount of crop residue on the soil surface. The following year Mat spreads more limesand to treat the acidic subsoil that is brought to the surface. “Starting with a pH of around 5 on the surface and 4 in the subsoil, we are aiming for a pH around 5.5 on the surface and 5 at depth,” he says. “To achieve this requires about 4 t/ha limesand applied over the two years to treat both the topsoil and subsoil.” “Mouldboard ploughing needs to be done well, in wet soil and with not too much crop residue on surface,” he says. “We are close to completing the ploughing program across the whole farm and expect a long-term productivity benefit from the liming and mouldboard ploughing operation as a result of improved pH.” After using contractors for the first few years Mat now has his own mouldboard plough, and has committed to a program of ploughing 500 ha each year ever since 2011, along with regular deep ripping. When he first started deep ripping, Mat used a ripper that worked to a depth of about 35 cm but he now has a ripper that works to a depth of around 70 cm. To avoid bringing the weed seed back near the surface he uses straight, rather than C-shaped, shanks to shatter the compaction at depth without bringing weeds or clay to the surface. Harvest weed seed control decisions “The weed program here is about attacking them from all angles,” says Mat. “We do what we can to avoid letting weeds set seed. We have been running a Seed Terminator impact mill for a couple of harvests, having previously used narrow windrow burning for harvest weed seed control.” Mat has replaced narrow windrow burning with an impact mill for harvest weed seed control. Although narrow windrow burning worked well, Mat found there was a big risk of burning everything after a big cereal crop followed by lupins or canola, and it was hard to get the right weather conditions for burning. He was also concerned about the cost and long-term impact of lost nutrients. The farm is full CTF for harvest so Mat considered chaff lining as a possibility using RTK to ensure the chaff lines went on top of each other to then be burnt. With the soils being generally low in moisture Mat thought it was unlikely that the chaff would rot and was concerned that he might ‘have the chaff lines forever’. He also considered a chaff deck but decided it was not the best option for the farm and chose instead to invest in impact mill technology. Crop-topping in lupins has been part of Mat’s weed control program for a long time and he sees value in continuing with this tactic even though he now has the impact mill on the header. Rotation weed control tools “There is often 20 per cent of the farm sown to lupins and crop-topping is a good way to control any lodged or fallen grass weeds,” he says. “The outside laps in each paddock often have more weeds because it is harder to plough and the weed seeds are not always buried as well as they are in the main paddock area. Crop-topping is an effective way to help minimise weed seed set in these areas, in addition to the destruction of the weed seeds that go through the impact mill.” Crop topping in lupins is particularly useful for stopping seed set in lodged ryegrass that might not be picked up by the harvester. In canola Mat has previously used swathing and spraying under the cutter bar but is finding that direct heading works just as well. Crop rotation varies slightly on different farm units but generally follows a wheat, lupin, wheat, canola sequence. Some of the very light and fragile sands have not previously been suitable for canola but Mat has been able to introduce canola on these soils following liming and mouldboard ploughing. Pre-emergent herbicides are used for all crops – except straight after ploughing where the low organic matter levels can lead to more severe crop damage. After mouldboard ploughing and liming Mat follows a crop rotation of wheat, lupins, wheat, canola. He is planning to reduce the row spacing from 12 inch to 10 inch with his next planter to increase crop competition. Mat uses a tyned seeder with 12 inch row spacing but plans to change to a 10 inch row spacing with the next seeder to go the next step in crop competition for weed control. Cereals are sown on the CTF lines but Mat prefers to sow canola and lupins at 30 degrees to achieve better establishment in these sandy soils. This angle gives him the option to change direction back and forth each year and is not as rough as sowing on a 45 degree angle. Factors other than crop competition tend to influence variety choice but Mat looks to maximise crop competition through improved establishment, better soil fertility, better access to moisture and is looking to narrow the row spacing in the future. Deep ripping for yield In addition to the mouldboard ploughing to ameliorate non-wetting, Mat also uses deep ripping to improve crop production. Deep ripping is done every second year after lupin and canola crops and has made marginal soils profitable, which has led to a significant increase in overall farm profitability. Deep ripping trials in 2015 confirmed that there were significant benefits in addressing soil compaction and improving water penetration into the profile, particularly in wheat where ripping to a depth of 600 mm generated a yield benefit of almost 1 t/ha.   * Grain price wheat = $270/t and cost shallow ripping = $45/ha and deeper ripping = $75/ha. At Walkaway deeper ripping and topsoil slotting (inclusion plates) was the highest yielding treatment. Visual observations showed more plant roots deeper in the slots than un-ripped and NDVI measurements indicated a higher biomass in the deeper ripping treatments during the season. Source: Deeper deep ripping and water use efficiency, GRDC RCSN Geraldton GER9, by Craig Topham, Agrarian Management and Bindi Isbister, Precision Agriculture “Deep ripping has really boosted yield and we find the crops persist better between rain events and finish better at the end of the season. The crop develops a deeper root system that can access more water at depth and the result is better yield and grain quality,” he says. Although the mouldboard ploughing effect persists for several years, the sandy soils quickly settle and develop a hardpan at depth, even without machinery traffic. Mat aims to rip every second year if there is sufficient soil moisture in autumn, preceding sowing, taking care not to bring weed seeds to the surface. The CTF system is based on 12.2 m centres for the sprayer, planter and harvester and was installed in each paddock after the initial mouldboard ploughing to preserve the benefit of this operation. Using this soil amelioration program, Mat is now bringing land into crop production that was previously only used for grazing.
Article
Case Study

Andrew & Jocie Bate, Gindie Qld

The idea of small, lightweight machines replacing heavy tractors was prompted by Andrew’s determination to alleviate soil compaction on the 50 to 150 cm deep black cracking clays at Bendee. Ninety per cent of the area is sown to winter crops, which are grown primarily on soil moisture stored over the previous summer. Andrew and Jocie Bate, farmers first and foremost. A desire to alleviate compaction on their farm at Gindi, Central Queensland is the driving force behind their agtech venture into robotics. “Central Queensland winters are generally dry and we rely on moisture stored during summer storms and retained through zero tillage and stubble cover,” says Andrew. “Wheat provides the best stubble and chickpea is our most profitable crop so we just rotate between these two crops. About one year in five we will have the opportunity to plant a summer crop and we’ll double crop a small area to mungbeans or possibly forage sorghum or dryland cotton.” The Bates also run a cattle enterprise separate from their cropping, except for limited grazing of forage sorghum one in three years in just one paddock. They usually avoid having the cattle on the cropping paddocks due to the compaction and the proliferation of hard to control weeds that can occur. Moisture seeking improves crop reliability Deep, or moisture-seeking, planting has been a valuable tactic for the Bates, particularly in chickpea crops. In years where there is no summer crop in the ground they are able to plant as early as April, without waiting for planting rain. “We plant chickpea seed up to 25 cm deep into moist soil,” says Andrew. “Wheat is more difficult to establish this way but varieties like Mitch that have a strong coleoptile can be planted up to 13 cm deep into moisture. It is still hot here in April and the temperature can reduce coleoptile length, so planter setup is critical to get even emergence from depth. If we can achieve a good even stand, the crops have access to good moisture to sustain vigorous early growth.” Mitch is not a prime hard wheat variety so Andrew only grows it when soil moisture is limiting, knowing that it will push out of the ground even in tough conditions. Wheat stubble is essential for their farming system, so Andrew does everything necessary to ensure a good wheat crop is established. The deep sowing technique has proven almost bullet-proof over the last 20 years with wheat being reliably established in eight years out of ten, and they have had 100 per cent success with chickpeas. In most years Andrew grows their crops on stored moisture plus one inch of early rainfall and hopes for one follow-up rainfall event in-crop. In-crop weed control “We put a lot of emphasis on having clean fallows and achieving strong emergence of the crop,” says Andrew. “This is critical to maintaining our low weed numbers in our winter crops. All our crops are sown on 50 cm row spacing, except sorghum, which is sown in meter rows. In the recent dry summers, we have opted to grow forage sorghum rather than grain sorghum as a risk management strategy due to limited stored moisture in the profile.” Metsulfuron-methyl (e.g. Ally, Group B) and Tordon 242 (Group I) herbicides are providing reliable in-crop control of broadleaf weeds in wheat crops and has a useful level of soil residual activity that reduces the incidence of weeds germinating late in the season. Andrew says the dry conditions in Central Queensland winters results in minimal in-crop weeds, so there is little pressure to adopt harvest weed seed control tactics – their focus is on controlling summer fallow weeds. Wheat provides the essential stubble cover to maximise soil moisture conservation over summer to underpin the following, and most profitable, chickpea crop. In the chickpea and mungbean crops Andrew uses Group A chemistry, mainly haloxyfop (e.g. Verdict), to manage grass weeds. While he avoids residuals as much as possible to maintain flexibility in the rotation, he uses simazine (Group C) across all of his chickpea and isoxaflutole (Group H, e.g. Balance) on about a quarter of the chickpea area to provide long-term residual control of many problem grass and broadleaf weeds, including glyphosate tolerant feathertop Rhodes grass, sowthistle, and fleabane in crop and during the following summer fallow. “We use minimal in-crop herbicide and rotate between chemical groups though the crop rotation,” says Andrew. “But really we rely mainly on our fallow management to have clean paddocks to plant into.” Within the next few years all the weed control and planting at Bendee will be done by the robots. Andrew and Jocie will soon dispense with their self-propelled spray unit and just use their robots supplemented with blanket aircraft applications on less than 10 per cent of the farm area. The weediest paddocks on Bendee still only require herbicide to be applied to 20 per cent or less of the area. The robots can also do broadacre spraying but this will be more practical once the docking and refilling capability is implemented. “We generally have dry harvest conditions so most of the soil compaction is done by the sprayer in wet conditions,” says Andrew. “Right from the start this has been a driving force behind the development of the SwarmBot concept.” There are currently two SwarmBot-5 robots with WEEDit attachments working on Bendee. The two robots cover 24 ha/hr and can work 24 hours a day if conditions permit. With weather stations now onboard, the robots will drop into sleep mode when the weather conditions are outside acceptable parameters and then wake up and resume work when the conditions are good. Robots and the optical WEEDit sprayer have combined to reinvent the fallow weed management system at Bendee Farming. With more passes, there are more opportunities to spray weeds when they are small and easy to kill, and rotate chemical groups more often. Summer weeds are of greatest concern at ‘Bendee’, with sowthistle, fleabane, wild sunflower and feathertop Rhodes grass being the main targets for fallow weed management. These key species are a bigger problem in years with wet summers, where the weeds can get away during the fallow period and then haunt you in the following crop. Andrew is working on setting up the robots to wick-wipe weeds such as milk thistle growing above the canopy in chickpea and stop seed set. Robots and the optical WEEDit sprayer have combined to reinvent the fallow weed management system at Bendee Farming. While Andrew acknowledges that calendar spraying is generally a bad idea with regular spray rigs, it is a really valuable tactic when you have robots at your disposal. “We are doing more frequent passes with the robots applying knockdown herbicides and it works well because we are always spraying fresh, small weeds and minimising seed set, therefore reducing the risk of herbicide resistance,” he says. “We are also better able to control weeds that are considered hard to kill with glyphosate, such as wild sunflower, feathertop Rhodes, sowthistle and fleabane, which are all much more susceptible to glyphosate when they are very small.” “With robots, it’s not about how many acres you can spray in one day – it’s more about how many passes you can do in one season. More passes, gives you more opportunities to kill weeds when they are small and easy to kill and rotate chemical groups more often.” The benefit of the robot and optical sprayer combination is that both operate equally well at night as in the day, and so can be out spraying whenever the conditions are within the optimal range of temperature, wind speed and humidity. Andrew can also use a wider range of knockdown options such as glyphosate (Group M), paraquat (Group L), glufosinate-ammonium (Group N), and proprietary mixes such as amitrole (Group Q) plus paraquat when spot spraying to reduce costs. “Running the robots weekly to hit weeds hard opens up untapped potential in existing herbicides because they are being spot sprayed on small weeds only,” he says. “This avoids the need for residuals in fallow and there’s even the option to add spot cultivation if required.” “With robots you can spot spray a paddock that an agronomist would say was not worth spraying. Having a low weed seed bank means there is less pressure to go spraying straight after rain because there will be fewer weeds germinating.” With 4000 ha of summer fallow to keep clean Andrew is also re-evaluating their double-knock strategies using the robots. He is finding that the proprietary mix Alliance (Group Q + L) is a good double knock for glyphosate and he often puts two compatible modes of action in the same tank mix. “The WEEDit makes double-knocking much more practical, and using the robots means the workforce and family have less exposure to chemical,” says Andrew. “We can afford to double-knock more often.” Where weedy patches have established Andrew employs patch management strategies to prevent seed set. Intensive herbicide treatments or use of the robotic cultivator are now options at Bendee, particularly if the weed escapes are large plants. “Ideally we are working toward the development of microwave technology for the robots rather than targeted tillage,” says Andrew. “Microwave weeding is only practical on a robotic platform and when applied using weed detection there is a big reduction in the energy required. For us, the key advantage is the zero soil disturbance – a lot of weeds thrive in a disturbed or cultivated environment even if the disturbed area is small.” Andrew and Jocie see microwave technology as a good non-herbicide option that is compatible with robots and no-till farming systems. This prototype is proof of concept. Along fencelines and paddock edges Andrew has reduced his use of 2,4-D in the last few years due to the impact 2,4-D has on glyphosate efficacy on key species such as sowthistle and feathertop Rhodes grass. Instead he is now doing more passes with broadleaf herbicides on borders and hand-spraying feathertop Rhodes grass. “Buffel grass provides good competition for weeds along fences,” he says. “It is very important to just use broadleaf selectives and preserve the buffel, otherwise you end up with all sorts of weeds.” Robotic planting The Bates have built a planter that the SwarmBot can tow and in time they expect to have the robots completing the whole planting operation. Previously the SP sprayer was used to apply the blanket spray in front of the tractor with the planter but now the two robots can follow each other, one applying the blanket spray and one towing the planter, with both operating at 10 km/hr. The controlled traffic system at Bendee is based on a 12 m header front, spraying band of 12 m and the 6 m robot planter will make extra wheel tracks but apply far less weight to the paddock than the conventional planter that has wheels every 4 m, with each wheel applying more weight than a whole robot. SwarmBot planter set up for planting cotton. Other resources: SwarmFarm: Target small weeds year round Robotics opens up more non-herbicide options

Videos

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Video

How to make the right decision on using Group Gs in the Northern cropping system

Group Gs have a place in northern cropping systems both in summer and winter crop scenarios. We ask Andrew Somervaille to explain Group G use in both systems and the most optimum use of different Group G products given the range of seasonal conditions in the northern cropping region.
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Webinar

How do I make the right decision on using Group Gs?

Choosing and applying the right pre-emergent herbicide can be difficult, particularly if herbicide resistance is becoming a challenge in a no-till system. Join Dr Chris Preston, University of Adelaide (UA) professor weed management and WeedSmart’s Chris Davey as they explain the new Group G chemistry and de-mystifies which Group G works best for winter cropping systems.
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Double breaks – a double shot at annual ryegrass

Perhaps you’re a ‘short black’ wheat-canola type, strong on inputs? Or a ‘long black’ type who likes to dilute their rotations a bit more? Or are you a ‘double shot’, throwing in a few break crops in a row for maximum effect? When it comes to managing annual ryegrass populations, Tony Swan and the research team from CSIRO Plant Industry and FarmLink, have shown that ‘double shots’ are the key. Growing two break crops in sequence (broadleaf crop, hay crop or long fallow) was more effective in reducing resistant ryegrass numbers to manageable levels than a single break crop or continuous wheat over a three-year rotation. And it can still be profitable.

Fact Sheets

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Fact Sheet

Changes to herbicide Mode of Action (MoA) names

The global MoA classification system is based on numerical codes which provides infinite capacity to accommodate new herbicide MoA coming to market, unlike the alphabetical codes currently used in Australia. Farming is becoming increasingly global. Farmers, agronomists and academics around the world are now, more than ever, sharing and accessing information to assist them to grow crops, while managing sustainability issues such as herbicide resistant weeds. It’s important then that the herbicide MoA classification system utilised in Australia be aligned with the global classification system. This will ensure more efficient farming systems into the future and allow Australian farmers and advisors to access the most up-to-date information relating to managing herbicide resistance. CropLife Australia is working with key herbicide resistance management experts, advisors and the APVMA to ensure farmers and agronomists are aware of the planned changes. The numerical classification system should be fully implemented by the end of 2024. You can find further information by reading the factsheet and visiting the CropLife website here.
Fact Sheet

Sustainable glyphosate use in winter grain cropping systems in southern Australia

The number of glyphosate resistant weed species present in winter grain crops, along fencelines and in irrigation channels in Australia. You can reduce the risk of glyphosate resistance in weeds if you follow the recommended practices in this factsheet.
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Sustainable glyphosate use in Australian vegetable production

The number of glyphosate resistant weed species present in Australian vegetable production systems is increasing. You can reduce the risk of glyphosate resistance in weeds if you follow the recommended practices in this factsheet.
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Sustainable glyphosate use on roadsides, railways, public utilities and parks

The number of glyphosate resistant weed species present on Australian roadsides and railway lines is increasing. You can reduce the risk of glyphosate resistance in weeds if you follow the recommended practices in this factsheet.

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