Weeds threaten Australia’s natural environment and rural industries. They displace native species, contribute significantly to land degradation, and reduce agricultural productivity.

Australian and international experts are working together to develop new biocontrol agents to target weed species of national significance, weeds that are difficult to control with current methods, and weeds that have substantial impacts across agriculture sectors.

AgriFutures Australia has been awarded a grant through the second round of the Rural R&D for Profit Programme to deliver the project called New biocontrol solutions for sustainable management of weed impacts to agricultural profitability.

This project aims to improve the long-term profitability of primary producers by developing novel biocontrol solutions that will reduce recurrent costs of control for farmers affected by the target weeds.

AgriFutures Australia has contracted three departments of agriculture in NSW, QLD and VIC and CSIRO to undertake the research.

The project will focus on 10 weeds of importance to many different agricultural sectors in Australia:

  • African boxthorn
  • Cabomba
  • Prickly acacia
  • Sagittaria
  • Silverleaf nightshade
  • Fleabane
  • Sowthistle
  • Mother-of-millions
  • Giant rat’s tail grass
  • Ox-eye daisy.

Potential biocontrol agents have been identified and are being imported for pre-release testing of risks and efficacy.

For example:

  • A promising insect for the control of Cabomba has been identified in Argentina and the process for importing this agent has begun with the Argentinian authorities
  • A potential biological control agent has been identified for Mother-of-millions and has been introduced into quarantine in Australia
  • Three agents have been identified for Sagittaria control. One of these has been imported into quarantine in Victoria
  • Five specialist gall inducing insects on Prickly acacia have been identified in Ethiopia and a permit to import one of these to Brisbane has been obtained from Australian authorities.

Release of biocontrol agents is beyond the scope of this project. Responsibility for release of biocontrol agents is defined in Commonwealth and State legislation. The National Biosecurity Committee facilitates decision making within this legal framework.

Project funding

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

Under the Rural R&D for Profit program, AgriFutures Australia received:

Grant funding: $6,230,437

Partner cash contributions: $3,179,818

In-kind contributions: $3,603,635

Total project resources: $13,013,890

Project partners

  • Grains Research and Development Corporation
  • CSIRO
  • NSW DPI
  • QDAF
  • Victorian DEDJTR
  • PIRSA
  • Queensland Bulk Water Supply Authority (SEQWater)
  • Shire of Ravensthorpe
  • NSW Weed Biocontrol Taskforce
  • North West Local Land Services
  • NSW Office of Environment & Heritage
  • Bundaberg Regional Council
  • Gladstone Regional Council
  • HQ Plantations
  • Goulburn Murray Water Corporation
  • Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd
  • Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative Limited
  • Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority
  • Murray Local Land Services
  • United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)
  • Australian Biological Control Laboratory
  • Wyong Shire Council
  • NSW National Parks Service
  • Central Murray County Council
  • Murrumbidgee Landcare Inc.

Contact

Michael Beer
General Manager, Business Development
02 6923 6915
0429 566 730
michael.beer@agrifutures.com.au

Final report and appendices

New biocontrol solution for sustainable management of weed impacts to agricultural profitability

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Appendix 1: Genetic diversity and morphological variation in African boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) – Characterising the target weed for biological control

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Appendix 2: Literature review of insects of African Boxthorn

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Appendix 3: Literature review of pathogens of African Boxthorn

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Appendix 4: Stakeholder survey reveals priorities for African boxthorn biocontrol research in Australia

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Appendix 5: Evaluation of the rust fungus Puccinia rapipes for biological control of Lycium ferocissimum (African boxthorn) in Australia: Life cycle, taxonomy and pathogenicity

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Appendix 6 Chari_et_al 2020 - native range surveys

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Appendix 7 Ireland et al. 2018 - Proposed test list African boxthorn

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Appendix 8 Ireland et al. 2019c - Goji berry_Stakeholder consultation

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Appendix 11 Rafter and Morin 2017 - Nomination fleabane

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Appendix 12 Hunter et al. 2018 - Proposed test list fleabane

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Appendix 13 Lit_review_pathogens_Sonchus oleraceus

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Appendix 14 Lit_review_insects_Sonchus oleraceus

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Appendix 15 Ollivier et al in press - Common garden Sonchus

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Appendix 16 Hunter and Ireland 2017-Nomination sowthistle

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Appendix 17 Hunter and Morin 2018 - Proposed test list sowthistle

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Appendix 18 Ollivier et al 2020 - Characterizing ecological interaction networks

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Appendix 20 Lefoe et al Assessing the fundamental host-range

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Appendix 22 Lefoe et al Systematic cultivar selection ms

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Appendix 24 Lefoe Assessing the risks of cultivar selection

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Appendix 25 DJPR_Application for release of L. appendiculatus

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Appendix 26 Sagittaria biocontrol field guide

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Appendix 28 Dhileepan Biological control of Prickly Acacia

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Appendix 29 Prickly Acacia Phylogenic Relationships

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Project updates

Latest News and Events

22.09.20

Biological weed control providing cost effective, sustainable solutions

A major project led by AgriFutures Australia is gaining momentum in improving the long-term profitability of primary producers through the development of novel weed biocontrol solutions.