Chemical challenge: Ploughing makes a comeback

MECHANICAL CONTROL: Tillage has reappeared in growers’ thinking because some weeds are prospering under herbicide-only management.

MECHANICAL CONTROL: Tillage has reappeared in growers’ thinking because some weeds are prospering under herbicide-only management.

AFTER being apparently consigned to history by the clear advantages of reduced-tillage systems, tillage has reappeared in growers’ thinking as it becomes apparent certain weeds prosper under herbicide-only management.

Queensland Department of Agriculture research scientist Michael Widderick said what was clear from his research, supported by the GRDC, was relying wholly on chemical control was not an option.

“If we continue to rely only on herbicides for weed control, we continue to favour the evolution of herbicide-resistant species will inevitably appear,” Dr Widderick said. “The challenge is to identify ways of using tillage that retain the benefits of zero-till while addressing weed management issues.”

Dr Widderick said two things were evident: Continued sole reliance on no-till was not an option, and tillage can reduce weed seed germination.

Queensland Department of Agriculture principal research scientist Dr Michael Widderick.

Queensland Department of Agriculture principal research scientist Dr Michael Widderick.

He believed answers lie midway between these two facts. That may mean harnessing technologies like robotics to deliver tillage only where necessary.

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