Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
Weeds represent a large economic cost to the Australian grazing industry in terms of production loss and direct cost of control. Success in controlling priority weeds is challenged by complexity of control approaches and scale of infestations
What did the research involve?
A review of literature, reports and discussion with key informants was undertaken to look for evidence and opportunity for new ways to manage weeds that exploit plant and animal management. The review process focused on novel or innovative approaches to weed management from the perspective of viewing the weed as a potential resource rather than a liability. As such, the review does not include a detailed summary of the known approaches to weed management.
What were the key findings?
The most promising approaches to emerge from the review were:
- Use of plant growth regulators to exploit plant species variation in phenology to selectively vary plant (weed) growth and quality and consequently increase grazing preference for weeds.
- Supplements and/or provision of a range of plants available to livestock to influence acceptance of weeds through effects mediated by interactions with antinutrients, changing protein, energy or macro/trace mineral availability or other interactions.
- Altering feed preferences of livestock through training which may be amplified through social learning (ideally with young animals) with the prospect of being fixed through epigenetic change.
- Trampling by livestock.
The top two weed control approaches recommended for future R&D were use of plant growth regulators to selectively prevent development of seedheads and increase grazing preference and training of livestock to alter feed preferences towards weed consumption.