2 July 2010 - Weed resistance is one of the biggest threats facing the future of agriculture, with some researchers projecting that by 2018, 50 per cent of agricultural weed species will be resistant to the world’s most relied-upon knockdown herbicide, glyphosate.
Dr Harry Strek, leader of Bayer CropScience’s Integrated Weed Management and Weed Resistance Biology team in Germany, will address delegates at the 12th IUPAC International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry revealing findings from Bayer’s global weed resistance research program.
“Weeds present a higher global threat to yield loss than even fungus and insect infections. Inability to control weeds will certainly cause problems for agriculture in the future,” Dr Strek said.
Dr Strek conducted research in Australia alongside Professor Stephen Powles from the University of Western Australia. It revealed that Australia has one of the highest incidences of weed resistance per hectare of farming land anywhere in the world.
Weed resistance is often caused by farmers relying on the use of a single herbicide group. Most weeds within a plant population will respond to the herbicide, but a small number will not. Continual reliance on one mode of action means that the susceptible weeds are removed and the resistant strains become more prolific, overtaking the plant population over time.
Dr Strek said that the challenge in Australia will be to persuade farmers and agronomists to change their weed management systems before weed resistance becomes an even larger problem.
“To simply respond to ecological threats as we are presented with them is not enough. We need to change our practices now to stop weed resistance from having a potentially devastating effect down the track,” Dr Strek said.
“Integrated management practices, including crop rotation, maintaining herbicide diversity, non-chemical soil cultivation and equipment sanitation are key to preventing weed resistance in Australia,” Dr Strek said.
Dr Strek said that Bayer CropScience’s focus is maintaining the sustainability of its products, while developing new modes of action which will provide growers with more alternatives in weed control.
“Bayer CropScience’s approach to managing weed resistance represents strong science, and strong commitment to principles,” Dr Strek said.
Dr Strek said that ultimately, integrated weed management’s role is to maintain the effectiveness of current herbicides on the market.
“Bayer CropScience has some exciting solutions in the pipeline which will assist with diagnostics and help the industry put a plan of action in place to combat resistance,” Dr Strek said.
“This is a global problem that needs to be combated separately in each paddock. Bayer’s goal will be to deliver superior recommendations at the field level.”
About Bayer CropScience
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience AG, a subsidiary of Bayer AG with annual sales of about EUR 6.5 billion (2009), is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of 18,700 and is represented in more than 120 countries. The Australian head office is located in Melbourne.
Fleur Wilkins, Communication Manager, Bayer CropScience
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