Weeds place a huge burden on the production system, so much so that GRDC estimated the cost to Australian grain growers was $3.318 million in 2016.
BCG commercial services manager Cameron Taylor said technology can help growers get a better understanding and handle of their weed pressure within paddocks. “Using GPS systems in tractors enables growers to get a better understanding of the location and quantity of weeds in paddocks,” Mr Taylor said. “This is allowing growers to quantify the issue they have with weeds, for example 40 percent cover in paddock X, rather than saying there is some weeds in that paddock.”
Site-specific spraying is one option being considered by growers due to the need to decrease costs and while maintaining effective herbicide use. A relevant example is milk thistle. Growers report they are becoming difficult to kill, and are sporadic across paddocks due to seasonal conditions. Mr Taylor said at his family property, Mayo Park Farms, they have been putting together weed maps over the past two years.
“When we are in the tractor, be it seeding, spraying, spreading or harvesting, we have the ability to use our GPS system to record areas of weeds in the paddock,”
“Once the paddock is complete, we are able to extract the information to identify areas we need to work on.” Matching the weed maps to yield and soil maps has enabled Mayo Park Farms to better manage problem areas. Mr Taylor said before using this system, they undertook some specific site spraying.
They have now identified that they missed 10 per cent of weeds. “The 10 per cent that we missed could have a big impact on rotational decision making and herbicide usage. Because we are being dictated by weed populations instead of the other way around. Now we are using the weed map we can better determine exactly where the areas are and make sure the whole area receives the required treatment.”
Mr Taylor will present his findings at the BCG Trials Review Day on Friday, February 16. For more details, visit www.bcg.org.au.