Weeds represent a huge cost to Australian farmers, from herbicide expenditure to yield loss and in-crop nutrient competition.
The impact of weeds can be quantified on a national and regional scale and can even be broken down by industry type in order to see differences in expenditure, weed species prevalence and management techniques.
In 2014 KG2 collected primary data from 600 Australian grain growers regarding the economic impacts of weeds (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
This survey was conducted on behalf of the Grains Research and Development Corporation in Australia.
This national scale study used the KG2 farmer database to reach grain farmers across Northern, Southern and Western regions, spanning 13 major agroecological zones (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
Studies like this provide crucial insight for Australian agribusiness and peak industry bodies into economic pain points associated with farming and crop protection country wide.
The power of quantitative research: regional break down of crop protection expenditure
Large quantitative studies allow for industry benchmarking, with the ability to gauge average expenditure and costs per hectare.
Over time, the continuation of such studies – in conjunction with the development of new technology, techniques and products – allows for measurement of changes in expenditure which could indicate improvement in the ability of the agriculture industry to manage the impact of weeds, or even the reduction of certain pests in different regions.
Alternatively, chronic outbreaks of various pests can be monitored through longitudinal studies like this, highlighting regional needs and issues.
Regional weed control expenditure in Australia
The “Impact of Weeds on Australian Grain Production” is a great example of the breadth and depth that can be achieved through surveying grain growers about the economic impacts of weeds (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
Insights derived from figure 9 in the original report illustrate the impact that weeds have on farm productivity, margins and practices (Llewellyn et al., 2016).The Northern cropping region was found to have a highest in-season and fallow herbicide cost per ha at $86/ha and $46/ha respectively (Llewellyn et al., 2016). Interestingly, Western cropping regions had the lowest in-season and fallow herbicide cost per ha at $53/ha and $14/ha respectively, but the highest expenditure for integrated weed management practices at $24/ha (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
Farm survey insights and monitoring changes over time
Farmers’ expenditure on weeds is not the only thing that varies during the season.
Depending on the focus of research and questions asked, a range of needs in Australia’s cropping industry can be discovered and addressed through market research and survey insights.
Farmers’ face the challenge of herbicide resistance, policy changes, weather volatility and more.
These factors impact so many activities, decisions and outcomes on farm; from herbicide choice, management techniques, yield, profit and plans to expand or contract operations.
Monitoring key insights- whether that’s the economic impact of weeds or sentiment of farmers in key industries- all play a major role in informing the Agricultural industry of problems and opportunities producers face regionally and nationally.
This can allow for faster adaptation, informed policy making and new product development.
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To read the full 2016 report, click here.
SOURCE: Llewellyn RS, Ronning D, Ouzman J, Walker S, Mayfield A and Clarke M (2016) Impact of Weeds on Australian Grain Production: the cost of weeds to Australian grain growers and the adoption of weed management and tillage practices Report for GRDC. CSIRO, Australia.