Grain growers and advisors have a new ally in the battle against Feathertop Rhodes grass (FTR) – the Integrated Weed Management of FTR manual.
The recently released manual offers an overview of FTR and its biology as well as practical advice on all aspects of FTR management including control tactics, post-emergent and residual herbicide options, the use of crop rotations, advice on chemical groups to include in a management program and implementation of an effective integrated control strategy.
FTR has posed a problem in Central Queensland zero till farming systems for nearly 20 years however it is rapidly marching south with incidences reported as far as the NSW Central West.
The manual is an initiative of the Central Queensland Grower Solutions group and is co-funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).
The manual’s recommendations are based on the latest FTR research findings on herbicide efficacy, effects of strategic tillage on seed placement in the soil profile, seed bank viability at differing burial depths, effect of different implements on FTR emergence and the impact of crop rotation in FTR management.
DAFF extension agronomist Darren Aisthorpe said the manual offered growers and advisors a path forward in FTR management by recommending key control strategies to maximise efficacy and minimise the development of herbicide resistance.
“For many growers the battle against FTR has long been fought with knockdown herbicides and slowly but surely that battle is being lost,” Mr Aisthorpe said.
“What we need to consider is breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. That is, giving up our reliance on ineffective knockdown strategies and moving instead to a multi-pronged strategy that helps stop seed set and exhausts the seed bank.”
Mr Aisthorpe said the effective long term control of FTR could only be achieved by using a combination of practices such as planned use of residual and knockdown herbicides, crop rotation, spot spraying/WeedSeeker®/chip hoe and strategic tillage.
“The bulk of the seed will germinate from a depth of 0-2cm with only 5% of seed able to germinate from 5cm depth,” he said.
“The seed is also relatively short-lived – if seed production can be stopped for 12-18 months combined with consistent integrated weed management strategies, it should see the seed bank being exhausted relatively quickly.
“With the current research data and knowledge available, the northern industry has a very real chance of successfully managing FTR and avoiding further development in the weed’s herbicide tolerance.”
A copy of the Integrated Weed Management of FTR manual can be downloaded at www.grdc.com.au/IWM-FTR-2014
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