Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

New Tactics in the War on Weeds

The native herb Lomandra stands in front of the invasive weed African lovegrass

The native herb Lomandra stands alone in front of the invasive weed African lovegrass, which was introduced into Australia for pasture improvement but was found to be unpalatable to grazing livestock and native animals.

By Jennifer Firn

Sometimes fertilisers can be more effective than herbicides when it comes to controlling weeds.

Dr Jennifer Firn is OCE Postdoctoral Fellow at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Invasive weeds are one of the most serious threats to the unique and rich biodiversity of Australian rangelands. Many Australians may not know much about rangelands, as only two million people live in this region, but they cover more than 70% of the land mass – more than 6 million km2 – and are packed full of unique and highly valued plants and animals, including 53 of Australia’s 85 biogeographical regions and five of 15 identified biodiversity hotspots.

Although these rangelands are far away and out of sight from most of the population, they support the most lucrative Australian industries, including pastoral, mining and tourism. Because of high economic, social and environmental values, sustainable management of these vast landscapes is critical for Australia’s future.

Many of the invasive weeds within rangelands were intentionally introduced for pasture improvement, soil stabilisation and ornamental purposes, but haven’t work out as planned. Instead they have become serious management issues that threaten biodiversity, key ecosystem functions such as nutrient and water cycling, and production.

In the Australian National Weeds Strategy, 20 weeds are listed as having impacts of national significance, with eight of these occupying rangelands. The list of weeds in Australian rangelands is much longer, with 622 exotic plant species being present of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.