'Decades ago, Australian farmers stopped using glyphosate and other herbicides to get rid of superweeds and seeds in their plots. Instead, they used natural methods of weed control and management that worked much better than toxic chemicals.
Farms in Western Australia raise wheat and barley as the main food crops. The biggest threat comes from ryegrass superweeds that developed resistance to excessively used herbicides.
Local farmers came up with management strategies for ryegrass come the harvest period. They employed a combination of cultural and mechanical strategies to protect their crops from getting overrun by the weeds.
They directed efforts at managing the so-called weed seed bank. By destroying the seeds, they reduced the number of new weeds and the chances of infestation.
Some farmers dumped the wheat chaff behind the combine harvester. They either collected the chaff at a later period or burned the organic waste product.
Other practitioners deployed the Harrington Weed Seed Destructor. The ominous-sounding device crushed the seeds of weeds while leaving the wheat grain untouched.
The natural approach reportedly destroyed 95 to 99 percent of the seeds produced by weeds every year. The weed population got culled down to just one plant per square meter.
Australian farmers ditched glyphosate herbicides for natural means of managing weeds
In addition to destroying weed seeds, Australian farmers improved the ability of their crops to compete with weeds. They tested out different row spaces and planted their crops in higher densities. They also developed new varieties of crops that grew fast enough to match the spread of weeds.'
Read more: Long-term outlooks: Australian farmers eliminate herbicide-resistant “superweeds” using natural non-herbicidal methods
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28 June 2019
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