Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
MODULE 5: Protect Your Farm's Natural Assets
Tool 5.3
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Weeds are a major threat to pasture productivity, native vegetation and biodiversity. It is estimated that weeds cost the grazing industries $1.8 billion each year in lost revenue. The threat posed by weeds to biodiversity is ranked second only after land clearing.

Weed management needs to be planned using the 3D approach - Deliberation, Diversity and Diligence.

Deliberation - stocktake of weed problems and priorities

Ask yourself Action Result

What have I got?

Use Quickchecks (see signposts in procedure 5.4 and/or tool 7.6 (in Grow More Pasture) to assess both the desirable and weed species in the paddocks of most concern to you

Tailor your strategies and set your goals

Where are the weeds on my farm?

On a farm map plot where your weed infestations are, which species are present and how dense they are at each location

Firm up your priority areas for weed management

Where did/are the weeds coming from?

Determine if the weed/s:

  • Were already present
  • Came in from a particular source such as stock feed or machinery contamination

Help you determine how to prevent future weed incursions

What are my goals for my weed management?

Identify on your farm map:

  • Clean areas: prevent new weed incursions
  • Small or scattered infestations: eradicate the weeds
  • Moderate to dense infestations: eradication may not be possible at first, so contain the infestation, and ensure it doesn’t spread further. Once contained, then start eradicating the plants
  • Dense with ongoing sources of reinfestation: management of the infestation is an appropriate goal

Determine achievable goals for weed management in your priority areas.

Allocate the right amount of time and money to achieve each goal.

What tactics are most appropriate to achieve my weed management goals?

Use the Weed CRC 5 tactic weed control matrix (tool 5.4)

 

Choose the right tactic to achieve my weed management goals.

On a sheep enterprise in the southern NSW tablelands, African lovegrass and serrated tussock are both significant problems. The long-term management of serrated tussock meant that it did not get away and the goal for serrated tussock on this property is eradication. However, not much was known about African lovegrass when it was first identified on this property. It is now such a problem that eradication is not a feasible goal at this point in time and the current goal is controlled management.


Diversity - management tactics to target weak points in weed lifecycles

Ask yourself Action Result

What weed management tools do I have in the toolbox?

Use as many tactics as you can:

  • Competitive perennial pastures and/or other vegetation.
  • Grazing management
  • Biological control
  • Herbicides
  • Cultivation/avoiding cultivation (dependant on species present)
  • Slashing
  • Crop rotations
  • Burning
  • Fertilizer application

Integrated weed management: adoption of a diverse range of weed control practices that reduce the reliance on herbicides.

Which tools will help achieve my weed management goals?

See the AWI and MLA 3D Weed Management brochures on:

MLA Tips & Tools: Weed Removers Pasture Improvers
Review tool 5.4
Select a variety of tools that can work together to target your weeds, using the tactics you identified in Deliberation.

Choose the right tools to achieve your vision for weed management in your grazing enterprise

When is the best time to carry out each option to target priority weeds?

Establish a calendar of activities to target the weeds throughout the year to:

  • Apply herbicide at the right time.
  • Ensure groundcover is maintained at critical times to minimise weed germination.

‘Do it on time every time’

On a central NSW sheep property, Paterson’s curse has been present for 20 years. The current tactic for managing Paterson’s curse is to prevent seed set to reduce the population over time. A number of tools are used to achieve this including competitive pastures to limit the number of weed plants present; biological control; slashing at early flowering if necessary to prevent seed set; and herbicides used in crop rotation, spray grazing and spot spraying of small infestations, fence lines and around sheds.

Diligence - monitor progress then adjust your strategy accordingly

Ask yourself Action Result

Has my weed management been successful?

Monitor weed levels after key management activities, and on an annual basis to track changes in weed distribution and density

Proof that you are achieving your weed

What can I do to improve my weed management?

In the short term:

  • Reapply a management tool that wasn’t successful, or
  • Try a new management technique if the original technique wasn’t suitable

In the longer term, reassess your weed management strategy and goals based on the outcomes of your monitoring program

Re-adjust your strategy to:

  • Set new goals and priorities for weed management
  • Re-allocate your time and money to achieve existing and new weed management goals

On a southern NSW tablelands sheep enterprise, diligence is a key factor in the management of serrated tussock. Once a year the entire property is checked for serrated tussock and any live plants are spot sprayed there and then. The sheep producer says this job is neither difficult nor expensive; you just have to be persistent and get up and do it. To assist with this, every vehicle on the property has either a knapsack sprayer with fluproponate or a mattock to remove the weed immediately once it’s spotted. It is this vigilance which has enabled him to reduce his serrated tussock management time over fifteen years from three months per year to less than a week per year.