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Solanum nigrum (Black Nightshade)Heliotropium europaeum (Common Heliotrope)Hypericum androsaemum (Tutsan)Opuntia robusta           (Wheel Cactus)Marrubium vulgare (Horehound)Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan Honeysuckle)Tribulus sp. (Caltrop)Malva parviflora (Small-flowered Mallow)Carthamus lanatus (Saffron Thistle)Alternanthera pungens (Khaki Weed)Cichorium intybus (Chicory)Carduus pycnocephalus (Shore Thistle)Briza minor (Lesser Quaking Grass)Chondrilla juncea (Skeleton Weed)Briza maxima (Quaking Grass)Solanum sp. (Nightshade; seedlings)Conyza sp. (Fleabane) Dipsacus fullonum (Wild Teasel)Alstroemeria hybrid (Peruvian Lily)Malva parviflora (Small-flowered Mallow)

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Australian Weed Management Systems

Author or Editor: 
Brian Sindel
Price: 
No longer available
Other information: 
Soft cover, 506 pages
Reviewer: 
J T Swarbrick, Toowoomba

 

Until now weed science teaching in Australian colleges and universities has relied on overseas textbooks, mainly from the USA. Whilst the principles are undoubtedly the same our weeds are different, our ecosystems are different, and our approaches to weed management are different. The main educational objectives of the highly successful Cooperative Research Centre for Weed Management Systems were the production of a common syllabus for weed science and a supporting text book, and at last we have our own Australian text on this important topic.

The book consists of six parts and 24 chapters, each written by eminent Australian authorities and refereed by others with experience in that area. The result is an authoritative and readable text which is up to date, well presented and well referenced, and which reflects the current Australian view of all the main branches of weed science.

Australian Weed Management Systems opens with an essay on weeds and their impacts, which covers their history, alien, naturalised and native plants as weeds, the imperatives of weed management, and prerequisites for effective weed management.

The second part of the book covers the ascendancy of weeds and their place in ecosystems. An interesting chapter on weed invasion, distribution and succession asks where our weeds came from, when, and at what rate are they still arriving. Why are some ecosystems more prone to invasion than others? Are any Australian ecosystems proof against weeds (probably not). How and to where do weeds get distributed? What awakes the sleepers? What are the windows of invasion (continually renewed in croplands)? This is followed by a chapter on weed ecology and population dynamics, including the effects of rising fertility, disturbance, climate, soil type, population dispersal and growth, and competition. The section concludes with a discussion of weed interference, with a glance at allelopathy and an in-depth discussion of competition.

Techniques available for weed control is necessarily a lengthy section. The over-riding requirements for effective regional weed management, legislation and quarantine in which Australia leads the world are fully discussed, including our proactive and strategic approaches to weed management. Other chapters discuss tillage and other physical management methods (mulching, rouging, flooding, heat, mowing and hygiene), cultural management methods including rotations, crop competition and cover crops, and grazing management methods, which although frequently mishandled are the main method by which we must struggle to keep our extensive pastures relatively free from weeds. Australia leads the world in classical biocontrol of weeds with many successful examples, and this area is well covered. Continuing Australian development of inundative biocontrol with bioherbicides is also well covered. Two chapters are necessarily devoted to herbicides - their mode of action and resistance, and their application and fate in the environment. We still depend on herbicides for the quick fix required in cropping systems and always shall, and these chapters provide the background that students need to understand their use and potential abuse.

Two brief but important chapters provide historical and economic perspectives on weed control in the fourth section of the book. They cover the development of integrated weed management systems, and the all-important topic of the economics of weed control at farm and community levels. Although not all weed control is driven by economic needs, this is surely the most important factor in most farmers' minds.

The rationale behind the CRC for Weed Management Systems is that weed management must be approached as an interaction between the weeds, crops, pastures or other desired vegetational outcomes of the ecosystem, and the physical, climatic, soil, economic and social opportunities and constraints that control the functioning of the ecosystem and the decision making of the ecosystem manager. The largest section of Australian Weed Management Systems is then rightly concerned with an overview of weed management systems in our nine most important managed ecosystems. Chapters include detailed studies of weed management in crops, pastures, natural ecosystems, vegetables and tree crops and viticulture. The socially important area of weed management in lawns and sports turf is well reviewed, as is weed control in plantation forests and in rangelands. Weed management in freshwater aquatic ecosystems is covered, but we remain unable to manage the emerging but potentially serious weeds of marine areas.

Weed science and weed management are rapidly evolving disciplines, driven by increasing research, knowledge and integration and interaction both within the subject and between weed scientists and the rest of the community, and ever tightening economic, legislative and social forces. These are compounded by the (hopefully now reduced) continual introduction of new weeds from abroad, the spread of existing weeds within Australia, the awakening of sleepers, and the emergence of new types of herbicide resistance. This complex but vitally important area is reviewed in the final chapter.

Australian Weed Management Systems is a tour de force by Australian weed scientists. Linked with a national weed science syllabus in weed science and weed management it cannot fail to improve our weed management. It is recommended to all of us who are involved in weeds and their management; we shall all find valuable information within its covers. I wish it had been available when I was teaching weed science.