World Wide Web Creates Need For Weed Vigilance

October 8, 1999 The Rural News

The Internet has created the need for even greater awareness of the problems caused by agricultural and environmental weeds.

"People are now able to purchase seeds and other plant materials from overseas and then have them delivered by mail,' New South Wales Agriculture weeds agronomist Steve Sutherland said.

"Without some screening, it's highly likely that some of these plants will turn out to the serious weeds in Australia if they are allowed to escape."

Mr Sutherland said weeds pose problems for all sectors of the community, degrading crops and pastures, recreation parks and gardens.

Weedsbuster Week, 10 he held in the second week of October, is a national program designed to highlight the problems caused by weeds, from yield loss in crops to loss of biodiversity in natural ecosystems.

The Riverina will recognize Weedsbuster Week with a range of activities, including an official launch on Tuesday, October 12, at the Wagga Civic Centre. The launch starts at 11am. "The program aims to educate everyone, particularly those people not normally dealing with weeds," Mr Sutherland said.

"People need to recognize that not all plants are desirable, even if they are pretty to look at. Good examples of this are Patterson's Curse in pastures and Cotoneasters in park areas."

In the rural sector, weeds are a major source of production loss.

"We spend more than $600 million a year on weed management. That's three times more than farmers spend on the control of other pests." Mr Sutherland said.

"A lot of research is being carried out to discover ways of reducing our reliance on herbicides which will provide production and environmental benefits for everyone. One aspect of this research is the development of new crop varieties which will compete better with weeds."