Breaking up with brome grass

Wimmera growers will have the chance to hear from a leading expert about managing brome grass during a series of forums being coordinated by Agriculture Victoria this March.

Plant Science Consulting’s Sam Kleemann will speak at Murtoa, Noradjuha and Dimboola, to help growers develop system-based tactics to tackle the weed.

Brome grass is the third biggest grass weed problem for grain growers in southeast Australia.

Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension Officer, Heather Drendel, said that the level of grass weed infestation in Wimmera crops increased in 2019, with brome grass becoming more prevalent.

“It has been a challenge for growers,” she said.

“The weed is evolving to no-till farming and the dry seasons have exacerbated the problem.”

Ms Drendel said growers were adapting to a drying climate by sowing crops earlier, but this makes weed control a bigger challenge, as they rely more heavily on in-crop weed control.

Dr Kleemann will discuss how growers can reduce the seedbank of brome grass to manageable levels within three years by including break crops and different control tactics.

“Brome grass has developed increased seed dormancy in cropped paddocks,” he said.

“Seeds with greater dormancy can escape pre-sowing weed control tactics such as knockdown herbicides.”

Dr Kleemann said light can also inhibit brome grass seed germination.

“This allows seeds to remain ungerminated on the soil surface until after sowing and it prevents seedlings from being killed before sowing,” he said.

“This also helps explain why brome grass has proliferated in no-till cropping systems.”

Dr Kleemann’s research while working for Adelaide University, with support from the GRDC, showed it was possible to significantly reduce brome grass levels with combinations of pre and post-sowing herbicides and seed-set control tactics using certain crop rotations.

The Wimmera workshops will be presented by Agriculture Victoria and Wimmera Farming Network with support from Wimmera Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator and the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

The aim of the workshops, and the partner-based approach, is to increase awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the condition of the soil, biodiversity and vegetation in the Wimmera.

Brome grass management workshops

· Murtoa and District Neighbourhood House, Monday 16 March, 4.30 to 7 pm, followed by light snacks

· Noradjuha Memorial Hall, Tuesday 17 March, 8.30 to 11:30 am, morning tea included

· Dimboola Rowing Clubrooms, Tuesday 17 March – 1 to 3:30 pm, lunch included.

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