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Allelopathy can help put weeds down.

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Home | Media Releases DAFF05/035C - 22 August 2005

Allelopathy can help put weeds down

Researching and exploiting allelopathic effects in plants could make an invaluable contribution towards developing future weed control strategies, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Richard Colbeck said today.

Allelopathy is a chemical process some plants use to keep other plants from growing too close to them.

Senator Colbeck, who was opening the 4th World Congress on Allelopathy at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, said weeds were one of Australia's most pressing environmental threats, second only to land clearing for biodiversity loss.

"Australia uses a mix of cultural practices and chemical herbicides to control weeds, which cost our economy about $A4 billion a year," Senator Colbeck said. "But - like the rest of the world - we face the problem of dealing with the growing phenomenon of resistance to chemical pesticides.

"And that's after allowing for systems that integrate a combination of weed management strategies.

"There's also the problem of weed populations continuing to develop some resistance to commonly used herbicides.

"The alternative, provided by research into exploiting allelopathic effects in plants, is invaluable because of the contribution it can make towards developing future weed control strategies."

Senator Colbeck said there was a need to replace chemical herbicides that had lost their effectiveness because weeds had a developed a resistance, and to develop natural herbicides.

"This is an area in which allelopathy offers considerable potential to farming," he said. "There is increasing consumer pressure to minimise the use of chemical pesticides and implement sound environmental practices.

"Australian farmers have not been slow in recognising the benefits of allelopathy. They have used it to advantage in cropping systems to control wheat weeds by planting canola in crop rotations. There are also some varieties of rice that could reduce the invasion of pest weeds by reducing their germination."

Senator Colbeck said Charles Sturt University, Australia's main centre for allelopathic research, had focused its research to obtain practical results.


"Its work on the allelopathy of silvergrass (Vulpia species) has enabled farmers to minimise the effect of this significant weed," he said. "There is also potential scope for working with other areas of research, including biotechnology and organic technologies."

Further media inquiries:

Senator Colbeck's office: Aaron Oldaker 0408 826 330


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