Friday, June 27, 2008

Weed Management the BIG Cost to Farmers in Australia

The management of weeds was the major natural resource management activity for Australian farmers, according to figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

During the 2006-07 financial year, farmers spent $1.57 billion controlling weeds, which is more than pests ($768 million) and land and soil problems ($649 million) combined, with the total cost of managing these problems $2.99B , or an average of $21,094 per business, ABS reports.

Nationally, nearly two-thirds of farmers reported that they had improved their natural resource management practices. Of these, 89pc reported doing so to increase productivity, 88pc for farm sustainability, and 75pc to improve environmental protection.

Other findings from the ABS include:
* farmers in Australia managed 425 million hectares of land, or just over half (55pc) of Australia's land mass;
* of all expenditure on weed management, nearly two-thirds ($982m) was spent on herbicides;
* of all expenditure on pest management, over half ($430m) was spent on pesticides; and
* erosion was the most common land and soil problem, reported by 48pc of the farmers, followed by soil compaction (43pc) and soil acidity (42pc).

The findings are based on the second Natural Resource Management survey conducted by the ABS.

These findings are an important snapshot of resource management issues in a practical sense. What is not indicated is why the weeds had so much expenditure and does not separate weed control for directly improving production of the land, eg weed control in crops, or is it expenditure on environmental weed control. It does reinforce however, the critical issue of weeds in Australian land management. This is a very significant change in comparison to the older view that insects were the big issue in "land management", including agriculture and natural resource management. It also reinforces the dominant role of herbicides.......but they can also be part of any integrated management system too.

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