Working with Weeds Summary

Alice, Alison and Warren
Alice, Alison and Warren

At the Working with Weeds Field Day, Alison Elvin from Natural Capital Pty Ltd presented a compelling and informative story about weeds. Warren Schofield from ACT Biosecurity and Rural Services and Alice McGrath from South East Local Land Services also presented information on weed management and planning on the day.

According to the Australian Government it is estimated that weeds cost Australian Farmers approximately 1.5 billion dollars a year in weed control activities and 2.5 billion in lost agricultural production. So why are weeds such a problem and can we change our thinking to manage them better?

Some key points from the field day:Alison Elvin on Weed Identification

  • Correctly identify your weed. Developing knowledge of weed and plant identification is critical to understanding what is happening on your land.
  • Boost your soil health by improving soil organic carbon and addressing any nutrient deficiencies. Consider using soil tests to help you address nutrient imbalances. Weeds can be indicator species, for example, Paterson’s Curse can indicate that the soil is lacking in copper and calcium.
  • Develop a plan for managing weeds over a 5-10 year period. There can be benefits to starting small and radiating out from control patches.
  • Weeds are pioneer plants that produce a lot of biomass, the organic matter from weeds can be utilised by slashing before flowering and used to increase soil carbon. Some grass species can also be baled for hay to use later for fodder.
  • Adjust your grazing system and aim to maintain ground cover, focusing on perennial species. Ensure that desirable species have the chance to flower and set seed at least every 3 years to allow seed banks to build up. Using rotational and strip grazing can also have benefits.
  • Keep bare soils covered to prevent erosion and weeds colonising. Weeds like to germinate on bare soils and thrive in impoverished soils.
  • Integrate your weed control measures. Use targeted control with chemical sprays, crash grazing and manual removal. Use the correct herbicide and correct rate for the specific weed in the correct season to prevent herbicide resistance. Develop a farm plan and keep records of what you do.
  • Consider returning marginal land to remnant bush and graze only lightly. Fence and plant perennial species on the contour and plant wind breaks where the prevailing winds come from to stop weeds entering your property. Physical traps can be used along fence lines.
  • Does the weed have a biological control agent?

Useful websites and links:

Weeds in Australia

South East Local Land Services

Integrated Weed Management Plan – A Land Managers Guide

Integrated Weed Management Plan – Planning Tool

Biological Control of Weeds

Molonglo Catchment Group Weed Information

This field day is made possible with funding from the Australian Government.

We also thank the following for their contribution:

  • The ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator and ACT NRM with funding from the Australian Governments National Landcare Programme
  • South East Local Land Services
  • ACT Biosecurity and Rural Services
  • Future PLANS
  • Small Farms Network – Capital Region Steering Committee.
  • Our host Paul from Springfield.

The Small Farm Network will be hosting Working with Weeds 2 in 2017. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out more.