Weed management

Declare war on weeds! 

Integrated weed management (IWM) is a strategy to manage existing herbicide resistance and prolong the useful life of herbicide groups. An IWM strategy will also reduce the rate of species shift, manage the cost of future weed control by depleting the number of weed seeds in the soil, and improve crop productivity through effective weed management. 

What do you need to know?

Herbicide resistance: 

Herbicide resistance is normally present at low frequencies in weed populations before a herbicide is first applied.  Using any herbicide creates a selection pressure that increases the likelihood that resistant individuals will survive, set seed and therefore pass on their resistance to offspring.

The underlying frequency of resistant individuals within a population will vary greatly with the particular weed species and also the mode of action of the herbicide used.

Early in the development of a resistant population, resistance commonly occurs in isolated patches. This is the critical time to identify the problem (however many of the possible symptoms of herbicide resistance may also be due to other causes of spray failure).

Resistance has been confirmed in 36 weeds in Australia. In cotton growing areas five common grass weeds areas are known to be resistant: awnless barnyard grass, liverseed grass, sweet summer grass, windmill grass and annual ryegrass, and one broadleaf species, flaxleaf fleabane, have developed resistance to glyphosate.

Correct weed identification:  

To be able to effectively manage resistance and to decide on an appropriate response weeds need to be correctly identified. Herbicide susceptibility can differ between similar weed species hence similar species may respond differently to the herbicide mode of action used.

Record keeping:

Good record keeping helps to mitigate problems when they occur and enables growers to determine the effectiveness of their management strategies as well as helping to understand why a problem developed. Records should be kept for all fields, and include cropping history, weed control tactics used and their effectiveness after every operation.

Timely implementation: 

Timely invervention of a weed control operation can be the most significant factor in its effectiveness. Herbicides are more effective on rapidly growing small weeds, and may be quite ineffective in controlling large or stressed weeds.

Herbicide rotation:  

Herbicides are classified into groups based on their mode of action. Herbicides groups should be rotated whenever possible to avoid using the same group on consecutive generations of weeds.

Crop agronomy: 

Decisions such as cotton planting time, pre-irrigation versus watering-up, methods of fertiliser application, management of rotation crops, stubble retention and in crop irrigation management all have an impact on weed emergence and growth.

Agronomy decisions should be considered as part of the weed management program. For example, modify the timing and method of applying pre-plant N to achieve a ‘spring tickle’ (shallow cultivation in combination with a non-selective, knockdown herbicide) in the same operation.

So, what should you do on your farm?

  • Apply herbicides according to label directions and the relevant state Pesticides Act.
  • Identify key weeds and assess the weed burden annually. Target strategies to manage problem weeds
  • Practice good farm hygiene to prevent the entry of new weeds to the farm, around the cropping area, in fallow and rotation fields, irrigation structures, waste areas, and between fields.
  • Scout fields regularly to assess weed pressure and the efficacy of control measures.
  • Select herbicides with consideration for rotating their modes of action, residues and re-cropping intervals.
  • Identify key weeds at risk of glyphosate resistance through use of a risk assessment tool and adjust management practices to minimise risk.
  • Control weeds which survive a herbicide application using an alternative mode of action or management tool before they set seed.
  • Control volunteer and ratoon cotton plants in field and non-field areas.
  • Keep records of weed management inputs for each field, including alternative management tools (such as cultivation or chipping).
  • Use weed control thresholds to determine the timing of in-crop applications.
  • Apply all herbicides at the ideal weed and crop growth stages.
  • Use precision spray technology to optimise control while reducing chemical inputs.

For more information on weed management visit the myBMP IPM (Insects, Weeds & Diseases) module.

Where should I go for more information?

Technical Specialists:

Susan Maas – Technical Specialist Biosecurity
Ph: 0477 344 214  
Email: susan.maas@crdc.com.au

Publications:

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