Windrow burning to control weed seeds is a widespread practice in Western Australia, but its efficacy is largely unproven on the eastern seaboard.
To help address this knowledge gap Grain Orana Alliance (GOA) chief executive officer Maurie Street recently conducted a trial on his property in Central West New South Wales to examine the effects of windrow burning.
Mr Street says growers need to look further than chemical solutions to manage herbicide-resistant weeds in no-till systems.
“I have concerns about herbicide resistance and felt that we needed to try something different that wasn’t just another herbicide,” Mr Street says.
“I was attracted to windrow burning because it’s relatively cheap, easy to set up and shows good results in WA.”
Mr Street says implementing the practice on-farm involved a simple modification to the back of the header.
“I took the straw spreaders and the spinners off, and then made a cheap chute for the back, which cost me about $100 in steel and a couple of hours in the workshop.”
Windrow burning to control weed seeds as part of a trial on Maurie Street’s property in Central West New South Wales.
Mr Street says he was particularly interested to learn how the practice would apply to northern areas of the eastern seaboard where summer rainfall is dominant, in contrast to the dry summers in WA.
“I was concerned that the heavy rain during summer would prevent the windrow burn from reaching temperatures hot enough to kill the weed seeds.”
However, Mr Street says the trial findings show the practice has good potential in his zero-till farming system.
“There is no ryegrass where the fire burned properly.”
He says the windrow areas where the fire did not burn properly were loaded with ryegrass. These high-density patches were later sprayed with a recommended rate of herbicide.
“The incomplete control could be the result of the temperature and conditions when I burnt the windrows,” he says.
“When the temperature cooled off in the evening, the fire lost its intensity, but when I started earlier in the day when temperatures were higher it worked well.”
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