Innovative crop weed control for northern region cropping systems

Herbicide resistant and invasive weeds have a major impact on grain farmer's profitability. The cost of weeds to Australian agriculture is estimated at an annual $4 billion through crop yield loss and seed contamination. This estimate continues to rise with increasing crop value, and as herbicide resistance becomes increasingly more widespread.

The challenge

The Northern region crop productions is defined by an agro-ecological environment that is markedly different to the southern and western dryland cropping regions.

In the north (north of Dubbo NSW) the cropping system is characterised by the predominance of summer rainfall and the opportunity for summer crop production, while summer rainfall levels tend to be less further south.

Although herbicide resistance frequencies are lower in the Northern crop production region in contrast to the Southern and Western regions, it is still a major concern for the northern region. There has been a reliance on glyphosate for fallow weed control, but the consequence now is widespread glyphosate resistance in several weed species.

Project name :Innovative crop weed control for northern region cropping systems (2016 -2023)

Funding Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) $1.5M

Our response

In spite of the ever increasing frequency of herbicide-resistant weed-biotypes, herbicides will likely remain the most effective form of weed control in cropping systems. This then is the driving force in the search for alternative weed control technologies that can be used to sustain the current valuable herbicide resources.

The project will provide valuable insights for informed farm management by exploring integrated weed management options including herbicide innovation, crop competition, strategic weed control and engineering weed control solutions.

The goal

Our project focuses on five key areas to achieve significant advancements in weed management practices.

  1. Herbicide Innovation: Foster herbicide innovation by exploring new and alternate techniques for effective weed control.
  2. Crop competition: Assess the impact of more competitive summer and winter crops on weed management programs.
  3. Strategic Weed Control: Evaluate the potential of cover crops and mulches to inhibit or suppress weed populations through strategic weed control approaches.
  4. Investigation of weed biology: Where we will study the biology of problematic weed species to identify vulnerabilities that can be targeted with current or new control techniques.
  5. Engineering weed control solutions: Exploring alternative approaches and developing new tools specifically designed for large-scale crop production systems.

Our team

Principal scientist

portrait of Professor Leslie Weston
Professor Leslie Weston
Research Professor of Plant Biology
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Our research team

portrait of Dr John Broster
Dr John Broster
Senior Technical Officer - herbicide resistance
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portrait of Dr Saliya Gurusinghe
Dr Saliya Gurusinghe
Plant biosecurity
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Key research publications

  • Nordblom, T.; Gurusinghe, S.; Erbacher, A.; Weston, L.A. Opportunities and Challenges for Cover Cropping in Sustainable Agriculture Systems in Southern Australia. Agriculture (2023) 13, 688.
  • Piltz, J. W., Bailes, K. L., Boschma, S. P., & Weston, L. A. (2021). The impact of ensiling at different moisture contents on germinability and viability of selected weed species’ seeds. Agronomy, 11(8), 1-10. [1639].
  • Gurusinghe, S., & Weston, L. (2018). Innovative crop weed control for northern region cropping systems. Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Our partners

Connect and collaborate

We are looking for researchers, students, funding and partners to help take our research to the next level.