Integrated Weed Management

Integrated weed management is the long term management of a weed using a combination of different management and control techniques.

Weed management techniques include physical/mechanical, chemical, biological, and cultural or social control practices. All of these techniques may be part of an integrated weed management system. It is unlikely that a single control measure on its own will be effective over the long term.

Integrated weed management aims to address the underlying causes of a weed infestation, rather than just focusing on controlling the visible weeds. By targeting the different stages of the weed’s lifecycle and undertaking measures that will prevent weed reproduction, integrated weed management will prevent weed reproduction, reduce weed emergence, promote seed bank depletion and minimise weed competition with desirable vegetation (Trotter 2007).

Developing an integrated weed management plan for serrated tussock

An integrated weed management plan must be individual, practical, economically sound and flexible. A plan should always allow adaptation from year to year as situations change and new technology becomes available.

When developing a weed management plan, do not treat one weed in isolation – think of the property as a whole system with many parts. When creating a management program, consider the impacts that a control technique will have on the weed, the desirable vegetation and the production system.

An integrated weed management plan has four steps.

1. Assess the site

A site assessment is essential to know the extent and density of serrated tussock (and other weeds) on your property. Being able to correctly identify serrated tussock from other similar grasses throughout its lifecycle and during different times of the year is essential during this stage.

Mapping is a tool that can help you plan ahead and to communicate your weed control activities and progress with other interested parties.

When mapping serrated tussock infestations record information such as:

  • Property boundaries, paddocks and natural features.
  • All vegetation both beneficial pasture species and weeds.
  • Different vegetation types and land classes on the property.
  • The location, size and density of the serrated tussock infestations.
  • Potential risks or issues, such as accessibility and assets of agricultural, environmental and cultural value.

Using a property map with this information will allow you to:

  • Accurately target and prioritise weed control activities.
  • Locate areas of high risk of invasion such as fence lines, gullies, roadsides, clean down areas etc.
  • Budget costs and time required to implement control techniques.
  • Monitor how well the control methods are working.

2. Set your objectives

Objectives are statements of the intended outcome you want to achieve over a certain time frame and can be measured.

They may have short, medium or long time frames and are designed to work together in an integrated plan.

Objectives can be applied at any scale, from one paddock within a property to a whole farm, region or landscape. Multiple objectives may be required if the situation is complex.

Objectives will set the direction you wish to move in and will help guide your decisions on serrated tussock control strategies and drive your on-ground activities.

Examples of some objectives are:

  • Short term – Stop serrated tussock from going to seed: to reduce seed levels in the soil back. Work together with neighbours to form a district plan to tackle the serrated tussock problem.
  • Medium term – Decrease the level of bare ground and increase the level desirable pasture species: to minimise serrated tussock invasion and to support livestock production.
  • Long term – Restore steep, inaccessible areas to native vegetation.

3. Develop and implement the action plan

The complex step is bringing together your objectives, the physical environment and suitable control techniques to develop and implement the action plan.

When developing your action plan it is important to:

  1. Work to integrate serrated tussock activities into everyday farm management – take a mattock and a small spray pack out when conducting regular property inspections.
  2. Mark key serrated tussock activities on your farm calendar.
  3. Get to know the lifecycle of serrated tussock and desirable pasture species.

Ensure areas for serrated tussock control are prioritised and the most appropriate control techniques are identified for your situation.

Once objectives and a plan of action has been decided:

  • Allocate time for serrated tussock control.
  • Allocate responsibility for actions.
  • Schedule activities on a calendar.
  • Include small tasks that can easily be completed to generate a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Get started!

4. Monitor outcomes and adjust your plan

Monitoring is an essential part of any good management program. During implementation of your program, frequently monitor and review your program.

Points to consider include: Have control works been successful? What follow up action is required? What will be required next year?

  • After implementing your strategy, return to the site in 3-6 months time and take photos. Assess before and after shots and chip out any small plants.
  • Regularly check all sites where control activities have taken place, monitor paddocks for current, arising and potential infestations.
  • Timing can have a great influence over the visibility of serrated tussock. Monitor late summer when it is exposed to dry conditions and still green in appearance.
  • Record the success of control activities and use this to review and adjust your plan.
  • Take notes on what works, and what doesn’t.
  • Record progress in a site diary, on maps, information sheets or with photo points.
  • Record changes in serrated tussock density or percentage cover.

Doing this will build a picture of what is happening over time, enabling you to identify new issues to plan for next year and, if necessary, demonstrate progress to your group, funding body or weed authority.