Weed control techniques for agriculture

SWITCHING TO SELECTIVES TO AID REVEGETATION

An easy change to an agricultural weed control technique is helping farmers manage weeds, improve riparian vegetation and prevent streambank erosion.

Vegetation along waterways (known as riparian vegetation) is important for stabilising creek banks—tree roots hold the banks together and slow the water flow down, preventing erosion.

In recent times, landholders in the Mossman area have expressed concern about thinning or receding riparian vegetation. Given that creek bank erosion is a major issue for farmers it’s understandable they’re worried by the changes to their riparian zones.

Terrain NRM’s Ruginia Duffy said that planting trees is time consuming and can be expensive.

“The good news is we’ve learned that making a small tweak to traditional spraying regimes— switching from a non-selective to selective herbicide—is an easy and effective way of improving riparian condition,” said Ms Duffy.

Favourable climatic conditions in the Wet Tropics means the natural seed bank in the soil usually grow easily and unassisted.

However, when non-selective herbicides are used to control problematic weeds like guinea grass, native tree seedlings are also inadvertently sprayed out. Over time this hinders the riparian forest’s ability to regenerate and repair itself, leading to thinning and receding, and eventually bank erosion.

Marcus Bulstrode from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries works with cane growers to support the development and uptake of sustainable farming practices.

farmer using weed control techniques to prevent erosion

“By switching from a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate to a selective like haloxyfop, you’re able to control the grasses while promoting the growth of native seedings. The natives are fast growers and will soon shade out the weeds.”

“Many landholders will already have a selective herbicide in their sheds, from using it to knock out sugar cane in their legume fallow crops,” said Mr Bulstrode.

Richard Padovan is a cane grower in the Mossman district’s Cassowary catchment. He changed his weed control techniques after learning about the easy revegetation technique through involvement with an erosion repair project.

“It’s been no big deal, and no extra work – and once the new trees are established it’ll actually be less work. I probably won’t even have to spray my banks anymore because the trees will be doing the work for me.”

Easy revegetation techniques to stabilise creek banks

Vegetation along waterways is important for stabilising creek banks and preventing erosion. This is an instructional video for switching to selective herbici...

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