Article by: Hari Yellina
A new handbook, which has been in the works for five years, will assist vegetable growers in implementing integrated weed management strategies. The publication, Integrated Weed Management for the Australian Vegetable Industry, is the outcome of a collaboration between the University of New England (UNE) and Hort Innovation. Researchers looked assessed a variety of non-herbicide weed control strategies for their effectiveness and user-friendliness in common crops like pumpkin, melons, potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens like cabbage, broccoli, and lettuce as part of a broader investigation. Weeds lowered the operating profit of a sample of vegetable farms by $2090 per hectare, according to the researchers, and it’s hoped that the handbook and related research will help to reduce this figure while also offering a practical knowledge foundation for Australia’s vegetable business.
Weed infestations in vegetable production have a negative influence on crop economics by reducing yield and quality, raising input, machinery, and labour costs, and complicating crop management. The 150-page booklet, which is free to download, will assist growers grasp current best practises and the significance of maintaining diligent and strategically employing a variety of weed control strategies, according to lead researcher associate professor Paul Kristiansen. “While many producers are already aware of these principles, we believe that by offering comprehensive information in one place, this resource will assist them in implementing integrated weed management,” stated associate professor Kristiansen.
“We concentrated on some of the most common weeds found on vegetable farms in order to gather knowledge on their ecology and impact, as well as to see if certain integrated weed management systems would be better suited to specific weed species.” “To collect case study materials, we also visited vegetable farms that were enjoying success with their integrated weed management technique.” One of the most intriguing findings was that, even in otherwise similar agricultural systems, there appears to be no single method to successful integrated weed control. “This is due to the range of crops, weed species, climate and soil types, as well as grower resources and expertise,” associate professor Kristiansen explained.
“However, we did notice that growers who were diligent in their application of integrated weed management principles, and who were willing to experiment with change when things weren’t working or new threats had emerged, were the most likely to succeed in controlling their weed burden,” says the study. Associate professor Kristiansen said that as the industry becomes less reliant on herbicides, the range of herbicides available in many vegetable crops tends to be limited, focusing more on weed control before the crop is planted, or controlling just a subset of weeds growing in the crop, such as grasses. “As a result, to ensure greater overall success, vegetable growers should supplement their herbicide programme with a variety of non-herbicide approaches,” he said.