To beat the weed problem without using herbicides, organic producers are successfully using a range of 'organic' and cultural methods.
And while conventional growers have highlighted the weed issue as a major factor standing in the way of a move to organic farming, interest in these methods should increase. There are two good reasons: many weeds are developing herbicide resistance; and organic produce is attracting premium prices.
In a recent Australia-wide survey of approximately 300 certified organic broadacre producers, grazing and cultivation topped the list of preferred 'organic' methods for keeping weeds at bay. The survey, conducted by Agriculture Victoria, showed that close to 60 per cent of the organic producers who responded use both grazing and cultivation as weed control methods.
(At its recent national conference the Organic Federation of Australia honoured the work at the Rutherglen Research Insititute as the best research projects in the organic field.)
Approximately 30 per cent of organic growers report that they use crop rotation, hay cutting or silage, green manure, fallowing, and high seeding rates to control weeds.
Other weed control techniques widely practised by organic growers involve the use of competitive crops, post-sowing cultivation, manual or hand weeding and the collection of weed seeds at the time of harvest.
Certified organic producers need to be able to demonstrate that their produce is grown without the use of chemical herbicides.
Program 3.3.2 Contact: Ms Viv Burnett 02 6030 4500
Organic producers are successfully using a range of 'herbicide-free' farming methods to overcome the major challenge of weeds.