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GRDC invests in integrated solutions to tackle weed challenges

Herbicides are a key component of integrated weed management, but they are not the only component.
Photo: Nicole Baxter

Weeds are one of the biggest threats to Australian grain production, costing growers an estimated $3.3 billion annually in yield losses and herbicide costs. To help growers manage this challenge, GRDC invests in a range of research, development and extension (RD&E) projects that deliver integrated weed management (IWM) solutions across the grains industry.

One of these projects is the Herbicide Innovation Partnership (HIP), a collaboration between GRDC and Bayer Crop Science that seeks to discover new herbicide modes of action for Australian grain growers. The HIP project, which was launched in 2015, was the first of its kind in the world.

However, it is not the only way that GRDC is supporting growers to combat weeds. The HIP project is part of a broader suite of GRDC investments that cover a spectrum of IWM strategies, from prevention and early detection to cultural, mechanical and biological control, to herbicide stewardship and resistance management.

Outside HIP, GRDC investment in IWM is more than $53 million spanning various themes, such as herbicide discovery and innovation, weed biology and ecology, non-chemical weed control methods, digital technologies, and communication and adoption.

Examples of these investments have included:

  • The Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI), a long-term partnership between GRDC and the University of Western Australia that conducts cutting-edge research on the biology and management of herbicide resistant weeds.
  • The WeedSmart program, a national initiative that promotes the adoption of best-practice IWM by providing growers with practical tools, information and resources to reduce their reliance on herbicides and preserve their effectiveness.
  • The National Herbicide Resistance Survey, which collects and analyses data on weed populations, distribution, density and resistance status across the Australian grainbelt.
  • The Weed Seed Wizard, which is a computer simulation tool that predicts the long-term outcomes of different weed management options.
  • The fleabane biocontrol investment, which is developing cost-effective non-chemical options for weed management based on traditional biological control approaches.
  • Innovative technology-focused initiatives which develop and commercialise new solutions for weed control. GRDC is partnering with large multinationals, home-grown start-ups and research organisations to bring a range of new technologies to growers in site-specific weed management.
  • Co-investment to determine the potential application of electric weeding and other non-chemical control methods in broadacre grain cropping.
  • The Harvest Weed Seed Control (HWSC) project, which evaluated the efficacy and profitability of various HWSC methods, such as chaff lining, chaff tramlining, chaff carts, bale direct and seed impact mills, to destroy weed seeds during harvest and reduce the weed seed bank. These investments resulted in commercial equipment now available for growers.

GRDC is committed to investing in diverse and complementary RD&E projects to provide Australian grain growers with a range of options and tactics to manage weeds effectively and sustainably.

GRDC’s manager of weeds Sarah Morran says GRDC recognises the importance and value of looking at weed control and management from multiple angles, and not relying solely on chemical solutions for management and control.

“Herbicides are a critical component of IWM, but they are not the only component. We need to use them wisely and in conjunction with other control strategies to reduce the selection pressure for resistance and maintain their efficacy for the future,” she says.

“GRDC is committed to delivering integrated solutions that address the current and emerging weed issues facing Australian grain growers and help achieve long-term, profitable and productive farming systems.”

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