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Sowthistle biological control

Common sowthistle field infestation (photo courtesy of Michael Widderick QDAF).

Common sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus) is an increasingly important weed in Australia, especially in cropping systems. Predominant in the fallow period, it uses vital stored soil moisture during this period, acts as an alternate host for insects and is difficult to control. Development of resistance to herbicides is making populations increasingly difficult to manage in agricultural environments. Given the success of previous biological control programs against other weeds in the Asteraceae family (e.g. Onopordum and Cirsium thistles), there are promising prospects of establishing an effective program for the management of common sowthistle.

This research on common sowthistle is part of the project ‘Biocontrol solutions for sustainable management of weed impacts to agricultural profitability’ led by AgriFutures Australia (formerly the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC)). This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme. The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is acknowledged for its financial support to the common sowthistle component of the project.