Funding boost to tackle growing herbicide resistance problem

03 Sep 2020 | 3 mins

The Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative at The University of Western Australia has been awarded $5 million to develop a cutting-edge crop and weed management research program.

The funding, awarded by the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), will facilitate the introduction of a five-year program to research, develop and provide recommendations to Australian farmers and growers to mitigate growing herbicide resistance problems. 

“The program will address key issues growers face in the management of herbicide resistant weed populations and will focus on delaying resistance and informing effective management strategies and tactics.”

Professor Hugh Beckie

Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) Director Professor Hugh Beckie said the research program would help Australian grain growers maximise their profitability by reducing the costs involved with managing herbicide resistant weeds.

“Profitable growers are in an ideal position to adopt innovative technologies that help to grow their farm enterprise,” Professor Beckie said.

“The program will address key issues growers face in the management of herbicide resistant weed populations and will focus on delaying resistance and informing effective management strategies and tactics.”

According to Professor Beckie, the most urgent issue the program will tackle is the selection and evolution of multiple herbicide resistance in weed populations.

Multiple herbicide resistance reduces crop yields and quality while also increasing crop input costs and restricting the number of tools for effective management.

“By identifying the function of genes involved in resistance and developing best control strategies, we can determine the most cost-effective and robust weed management programs based on modelling simulations, controlled environment studies, and field studies” he said.

Based at UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment, AHRI will collaborate with researchers at the University of Adelaide, Charles Sturt University, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Rural Development, the Queensland Department of Agriculture & Fisheries and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Plant biochemist Dr Danica Goggin, who is currently focusing on the metabolism of pre-emergent herbicides, will join the AHRI team. 

Dr Goggin has previously investigated the mechanisms of dormancy release and maintenance in annual ryegrass seeds, and the biochemical basis of resistance to the auxinic herbicide 2,4-D in wild radish.

“Research, development, and extension outcomes from this project will reduce costs incurred by Australian grain growers in managing herbicide resistant weeds by 20 per cent through informed, dedicated, and sustainable integrated weed management strategies and tactics,” Professor Beckie said.

More information about the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative is available on the AHRI website and Twitter.

Media references

Nicholas Smith, UWA Media Officer, 08 6488 1888 / 0411 644 492

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