Herbicide-resistant weeds

Chris Preston, head of the research cooperative Australian Weed Management, was cited as saying that growing weed resistance would one day push up food prices for consumers.

Dr Preston said the first herbicide-resistant weed was documented in 1982 and the problem had been building over the past 24 years, stating, “Some farmers are down to their last one or two herbicides.

It’s not going to get any better – there aren’t many new herbicides coming along, and as farmers continue to use herbicide they will continue to get resistance. It’s a real problem for farmers and ultimately if nothing gets done, we’ll see a change in the price of food.”

The story says that new research had shown 33 different species of weeds had become resistant to standard herbicides.

About 18 of the 20 weeds that were the most serious problems for farmers had some herbicide resistance, Dr Preston said, with annual ryegrass, wild radish and wild oats the worst.

And resistance has been found for 10 of the 13 families of chemicals used to control weeds.

Farmers are stuck in a catch-22 in which many of the producers battling the increasingly tough weeds were making the problem worse. “The fact they are a problem means farmers target them with herbicide, which means they are more likely to get herbicide resistance – which makes them more of a problem,” he said.

“It’s almost a no-win, unless you can find other ways of managing these weeds.”