Weeds represent a major cost to farmers. Their significant economic impact has led to changes in numerous management practices, with the adoption rate of new practices varying over time and across regions.
In 2014, KG2 conducted research on behalf of the Grains Research and Development Corporation in Australia (GRDC) collecting primary data from 600 grain growers on the economic impacts of weeds (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
It was found that weeds cost Australian farmers up to $146 per hectare in expenditure and losses, with this cost varying across different agroecological zones, ranging up to $213/ha in the low-rainfall South Australian/ Victorian Mallee region for example (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
The study also analysed the relative adoption rate of different weed management practices. As seen in figure below from the original report, management practices such as “no-till” and “double knock down” have been plotted in terms of adoption over time (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
Figure 1: Adoption curves for weed management practices and no-till -all regions. Source: (Llewellyn et al., 2016)
The importance of tracking adoption rates in agriculture
Such insights are becoming increasingly important given the new agricultural technologies and management practices emerging. Each will have their own barriers to adoption and relative speed of proliferation throughout the industry.
First adoption data in this study is based on recollections as opposed to historical data (Llewellyn et al., 2016).
With the increasing use of of agtech, Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics technology in the agricultural space, now is the time to consider how longitudinal studies monitoring adoption rates could be used to ensure:
- Robust historical data collection and
- Enhanced industry insights.
New management practises and technologies are emerging not just for weed management. They range from irrigation to animal health, yield monitoring.
Even crop protection products, agricultural chemicals and feed supplement use throughout the agricultural industry can be monitored in terms of adoption and use rate. Analysis of historical data for such products and practices could prove invaluable to certain industries when attempting to benchmark and understand change.
It is important to consider the value of longitudinal surveying for topics crucial to different agricultural sectors, such as the cost of weeds. Such studies can reveal insights not only in relation to adoption rates but changes in farmer attitudes over time.
Read the full study to see farmer perceptions towards farm management impact on cost, herbicide effectiveness and yield
To read an updated paper on weed management, click here
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.