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

Project updates