Meet Australian cattle & sheep farmers, discover 100 research projects and learn more about what is important to the sustainability of the industry

Weeds

The Issue

Over 2,500 weed species currently impact the Australian environment costing Australian agriculture in excess of $4b annually.  

The Facts

  • Weeds reduce farm productivity by invading crops, displacing pastures, degrading product quality and in some instances can be toxic to livestock
  • Weeds compete for water, nutrients and sunlight, resulting in reduced pasture and crop yield and overall forage availability and quality
  • Effective and lasting weed control can be achieved through the development of a well-planned approach using a combination of management options, integrated with other pasture and livestock management activities

Weed management plans work to:

  • Prevent weeds coming onto the property through bought-in feed or machinery
  • Reduce weed seeds setting
  • Reduce weed germination
  • Encourage competition from desirable grass and plant species

Prevention is much better strategy for managing weeds than dealing with an established weed species.

Weeds are colonisers, meaning they exploit any opportunity to establish. This may arise from bare ground being available or livestock preferentially grazing desirable pasture species rather than weeds. This grazing can severely reduce a desirable pasture plant's ability to compete with a weed and is why grazing and pasture management is critical to weed control.

  • Reliance upon just a chemical approach to weed control will not address the long term problem. The reasons why a weed is present must be addressed. Effective weed control must be accompanied by a change in pasture and livestock management.

The Research

Farmers play an important role in managing weeds in Australia, providing benefits far beyond the farm gate by reducing the spread of weeds to sensitive natural areas and protection of native species.

A comprehensive independent survey of the environmental practices of Australian cattle and sheep farmers in 2010 found the vast majority of farmers are active in controlling weeds:

  • 68% of farmers reported that weeds were a problem on their property

Of these farmers, 96% actively control weeds. Control was being done by use of herbicides in conjunction with grazing management

Some research projects that the industry invests in can be seen below:

More research projects can be found at 100 Initiatives.