Applying sub-lethal herbicide rates to save money is a high-risk strategy.
Reducing the application rate of herbicides increases a weed’s ability to evolve resistance.Any saving in chemical costs is significantly outweighed by the risk of the low dose causing faster herbicide resistance evolution.
• Dec 03, 2018
How do you manage summer weeds without spraying at night?
With Mary O’Brien, private consultant
The recent changes to 2,4-D label instructions have re-focussed attention on the need to avoid night spraying, particularly after 10 pm through to after sunrise.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that resistance can rapidly evolve in weeds subjected to low doses of herbicide. Some weeds can develop resistance within a few generations.
Full rates when mixing herbicides too!
When mixing herbicides it is important that each product is still applied at the full label rate to ensure high mortality.
Applying different chemicals in one mix can provide an additive advantage. It is important to understand the mode of action of each herbicide on the plant when preparing a herbicide mix. This is just as important for pre-emergent grass weed mixes as it is for post-emergent mixes aimed at broadleaf weed control. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.
Surrounding weed seeds with a combination of pre-emergent herbicides with different modes of action can give a high level of control and help extend the useful life of all the chemicals used. The high level of control must be supported with additional control measures for all survivors. All products with different modes of action must be applied at full label rates for this to be an effective strategy.
Mixing two chemicals with the same mode of action can achieve some additional efficacy, however, the mix should deliver the combined full rate to ensure a lethal dose. The amount of stubble present and crop safety are all important considerations when mixing chemicals. For example, when using a tank mix of Avadex® and trifluralin to control ryegrass in wheat, the rates used will vary depending on the sowing system and level of stubble retention. Be sure to get good advice.
Many herbicides on the market are a combination of two or more modes of action within the one product. These products must be applied at the full label rate to be effective. Having dual action does not negate the need to change herbicide products and rotate modes of action. Repeated use of any single strategy will reduce the effectiveness of that strategy over time.
Spray well – correct nozzles, adjuvants and water rates
Spray application is a technical field and growers need to make sure their equipment and application techniques are spot-on. The GRDC Spray Application GrowNote provides detailed information and about 80 videos to demonstrate key skills.
The focus of spraying herbicide needs to be on doing the job right so the weeds receive the correct dose and die, and this includes reducing the air borne fraction to a bare minimum.
Bill Gordon’s 10 Tips for Reducing Spray Drift
Choose all products in the tank mix carefully.
Understand the product mode of action and coverage requirements.
Select (and check) the coarsest spray quality that will provide effective control.
Expect that surface temperature inversions will form as sunset approaches and will likely persist overnight and even beyond sunrise on many occasions. DO NOT SPRAY.
Use weather forecasts to inform your spray decisions.
Only start spraying when the sun is about 20 degrees above the horizon and when the wind speed has been above 4–5 km/hr for more than 20–30 minutes, and clearly blowing away from any adjacent sensitive crops or areas.
Set the boom height to achieve a double overlap of the spray patterns.
Avoid higher spraying speeds.
Leave buffers unsprayed if necessary and come back.
Continue to monitor conditions, particularly wind speed, at the site during the spray operation
High water rates don’t have to slow you down
Some growers are concerned that increasing the water rate when applying herbicide will slow down their spray operation and cost them money. However, the biggest financial loss during spraying usually comes from a failed spray job.
To keep your spray operation as time efficient as possible when using more effective and reliable application volumes, you can:
Use nurse tanks around the farm to reduce the time spent travelling back to a central re-fill point.
Use a larger pump, e.g. 2.5 inch, to make re-filling quicker.
Pre-mix the batch while the sprayer is operating. Many mixes can be held in the mixing tank for up to 6 hours. However, wettable granules and suspension concentrates will need agitation to keep them in solution.
For pre-emergent herbicides in high stubble situations, carrier volume has a large effect on the level of control achieved. Across four trial sites Dr Borger’s research demonstrated that ryegrass control with trifluralin or Sakura® increased from 53% control when the carrier volume was 30 L/ha to 78% control when the carrier volume was increased to 150 L water/ha in high
Water quality and mixing order
Water quality is often overlooked as a possible contributor to herbicide failure and can lead to confusion over the herbicide resistance status of weeds on a property.
Water should be considered as one of the chemicals in any mix, given that water quality varies markedly depending on its source. Getting the mixing order right is essential for effective spray results.
Don’t start mixing until the water quality is right
Podcast – Mixing herbicides
Sometimes adding an adjuvant is beneficial and sometimes it is detrimental; and there is an art to knowing how to best deploy these additives.
When weeds are susceptible to the applied herbicides, the effectiveness of adjuvants generally goes un-noticed. Correctly applied adjuvants can reduce the impact of low level herbicide resistance by helping to maximise the amount of herbicide taken up by the plant.
Clean borders – avoid evolving resistance on the fence line
About one-quarter of glyphosate-resistant populations within broadacre cropping situations across Australia come from fencelines and other non-cropping areas of the farm.
Along paddock borders, where there is no crop competition, weeds can flourish and, if not controlled, set lots of seed. The traditional approach has been to treat these weeds with glyphosate to keep borders clean but after 20-odd years this option is now failing and paddock borders are becoming a significant source of glyphosate-resistant weed seed.
Weed researcher Eric Koetz said the limited options for managing weeds along irrigation infrastructure and other non-crop areas is a problem and is putting additional pressure on knock-down herbicides in irrigated systems.
In some situations, cultivation can be used to kill the weeds and provide a firebreak, but on light soils this may pose an erosion risk and mowing or slashing may be safer options. Another possible tactic is to continue using herbicides but to ensure that a clean-up operation is carried out before any survivors can set seed.
Some growers are choosing to increase the heat on weeds along the borders by planting the crop right to the fence and then baling the outside lap and spraying with a knockdown herbicide to kill any weeds and provide a firebreak.
Another good option in some situations is to maintain a healthy border of vegetation using non-invasive grasses. In Queensland, buffel grass is a good example of a grass that can outcompete other weeds while not invading crop lands.
If only herbicides are used on fencelines, resistance is inevitable. Surviving weeds on fencelines have no competition and access to plenty of soil moisture, so they set a lot of seed and resistance can easily flow into neighbouring paddocks.
It’s time for a glyphosate intervention
Farm hygiene cottons on – Cleave Rogan, St George
What’s new in management of herbicide resistant weeds on fencelines?
Keeping the farm clean – Graham Clapham, Norwin
Don’t jeopardise glyphosate for clean fencelines
Keeping fencelines clean
Resistance risk to knock-down herbicides on irrigated cotton farms
Clean seed – don’t seed resistant weeds
This can potentially reduce crop yield and almost certainly means that the weeds will set abundant seed and most likely shed that seed before the crop is harvested, increasing the weed pressure in future years.
The best way to ensure clean crop seed is to buy certified weed-free seed each year. But many growers prefer to retain some grain on-farm for planting the next year. For best results growers usually harvest seed from their cleanest paddocks and conduct some form of seed cleaning either on or off-farm.
However, research shows that there is a tendency to underestimate weed seed contamination in seed retained for planting.
An AHRI study on 74 farms across the Western Australian grainbelt showed 73% of cleaned crop seed samples had some level of weed seed contamination. The up-side is that 25% of cleaned samples were weed-free, so it can be done!
This means that many unknowingly introduce significant levels of weed and volunteer crop seeds into the farming system at seeding time, even when crop seed has been cleaned. More alarmingly, many of these weed seed populations are resistant to a range of commonly used post-emergent herbicides.
Uncleaned crop seed samples can have almost 25 times more contamination than cleaned crop seed. It is important to remember that resistance will evolve faster from introducing resistant weed seeds into a paddock, compared to resistance evolving independently in that paddock.
The cleaning method used strongly influences contamination levels – a ‘gravity table’ is the most effective, followed by other methods such as rotary screens and sieves.
Contamination levels of each cleaning method for all contaminants.
Crop type also has a significant effect on the amount of contamination, with wheat containing much higher annual ryegrass seed numbers than barley, possibly because barley was more likely to out-compete weeds during the growing season.
Another advantage of having seed professionally cleaned and graded is that larger crop seeds can be retained, promoting stronger seedling vigour and higher germination rates.
Systems promoting farm hygiene such as meticulous seed cleaning and sanitising tillage, sowing and harvesting equipment between paddocks will help prevent the introduction of new weed species, noxious weeds and herbicide resistance.