It is well recognised that weeds, seeds and herbicide resistance genes have the potential to move across farm boundaries and between different land uses. Some of Australia’s most important agricultural weeds have highly mobile seed and pollen, as well as the potential to become resistant to the most important herbicides.
The Australian cropping belt has expansive areas where irrigated agriculture, horticulture and viticulture are neighbours to dryland cropping – in these interface zones weed problems and weed management can become a cross-industry issue. All these factors point to an increasing need for greater coordination of weed management activities beyond an individual farm boundary and across a broader local area.
The potential suitability of an Area Wide Management (AWM) approach to weeds is the focus of this project that is investigating and demonstrating the agronomic, economic and social benefits of tackling the problem of mobile weeds on a broader, and cross-industry scale.
The project is engaging local stakeholders in generating a better understanding of the weed issues in focus regions through identifying the spatial mobility of key weeds, their herbicide resistance status and how this might impact on local land uses. Local area wide management groups are also trialling weed management practices with the potential to reduce the spread and cost of key weeds not just on-farm but on neighbouring land. In addition, social and economic research is identifying what is required for growers and local land managers to more actively and profitably engage in an area wide weed management approach for key local weed problems and threats.
The project is working initially across three focus areas: the Darling Downs, the Riverina and Sunraysia. By understanding the benefits and key principles which influence successful area wide weed management, the potential for successful localised approaches to be developed in other regions of Australia can be identified.
Research and development partners involved with the project include Grains Research and Development Corporation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, AgriFutures Australia, CSIRO, University of Queensland, University of Adelaide, University of Wollongong, Mallee Sustainable Farming, Millmerran Landcare Group, Irrigation Research & Extension Committee Inc, together with Wine Australia, the Toowoomba Regional Council and a range of additional local industry organisations.
This project is supported through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program and the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.