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Weeds threaten Australia’s natural environment and rural industries. They displace native species, contribute significantly to land degradation, and reduce agricultural productivity.

Australian and international experts are working together to develop new biocontrol agents to target weed species of national significance, weeds that are difficult to control with current methods, and weeds that have substantial impacts across agriculture sectors.

AgriFutures Australia has been awarded a grant through the second round of the Rural R&D for Profit Programme to deliver the project called New biocontrol solutions for sustainable management of weed impacts to agricultural profitability.

This project aims to improve the long-term profitability of primary producers by developing novel biocontrol solutions that will reduce recurrent costs of control for farmers affected by the target weeds.

AgriFutures Australia has contracted three departments of agriculture in NSW, QLD and VIC and CSIRO to undertake the research.

The project will focus on 10 weeds of importance to many different agricultural sectors in Australia:

  • African boxthorn
  • Cabomba
  • Prickly acacia
  • Sagittaria
  • Silverleaf nightshade
  • Fleabane
  • Sowthistle
  • Mother-of-millions
  • Giant rat’s tail grass
  • Ox-eye daisy.

Potential biocontrol agents have been identified and are being imported for pre-release testing of risks and efficacy.

For example:

  • A promising insect for the control of Cabomba has been identified in Argentina and the process for importing this agent has begun with the Argentinian authorities
  • A potential biological control agent has been identified for Mother-of-millions and has been introduced into quarantine in Australia
  • Three agents have been identified for Sagittaria control. One of these has been imported into quarantine in Victoria
  • Five specialist gall inducing insects on Prickly acacia have been identified in Ethiopia and a permit to import one of these to Brisbane has been obtained from Australian authorities.

Release of biocontrol agents is beyond the scope of this project. Responsibility for release of biocontrol agents is defined in Commonwealth and State legislation. The National Biosecurity Committee facilitates decision making within this legal framework.

Project funding

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

Under the Rural R&D for Profit program, AgriFutures Australia received:

Grant funding: $6,230,437

Partner cash contributions: $3,179,818

In-kind contributions: $3,603,635

Total project resources: $13,013,890

Project partners

  • Grains Research and Development Corporation
  • CSIRO
  • NSW DPI
  • QDAF
  • Victorian DEDJTR
  • PIRSA
  • Queensland Bulk Water Supply Authority (SEQWater)
  • Shire of Ravensthorpe
  • NSW Weed Biocontrol Taskforce
  • North West Local Land Services
  • NSW Office of Environment & Heritage
  • Bundaberg Regional Council
  • Gladstone Regional Council
  • HQ Plantations
  • Goulburn Murray Water Corporation
  • Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd
  • Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative Limited
  • Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority
  • Murray Local Land Services
  • United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)
  • Australian Biological Control Laboratory
  • Wyong Shire Council
  • NSW National Parks Service
  • Central Murray County Council
  • Murrumbidgee Landcare Inc.

Contact

Michael Beer
General Manager, Business Development
02 6923 6915
0429 566 730
michael.beer@agrifutures.com.au

Final report and appendices

New biocontrol solution for sustainable management of weed impacts to agricultural profitability

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Appendix 1: Genetic diversity and morphological variation in African boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) – Characterising the target weed for biological control

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Appendix 2: Literature review of insects of African Boxthorn

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Appendix 3: Literature review of pathogens of African Boxthorn

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Appendix 4: Stakeholder survey reveals priorities for African boxthorn biocontrol research in Australia

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Appendix 5: Evaluation of the rust fungus Puccinia rapipes for biological control of Lycium ferocissimum (African boxthorn) in Australia: Life cycle, taxonomy and pathogenicity

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Appendix 6: Insect herbivores associated with Lycium ferocissimum (Solanaceae) in South Africa and their potential as biological control agents in Australia

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Appendix 7: Proposed plant host test list for assessing risk of candidate biological control agents for Lycium ferocissimum

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Appendix 8: Literature review pathogens of Fleabane

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Appendix 9: Literature review insects of Fleabane

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Appendix 10: Nomination of a target weed for biological control: Conyza bonariensis

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Appendix 11: Proposed plant host test list for assessing risk of candidate biological control agents for Conyza bonariensis

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Appendix 12 Literature review pathogens of Sonchus oleraceus

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Appendix 13 Literature review insects of Sonchus oleraceus

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Appendix 14: Trait differentiation between native and introduced populations of the invasive plant Sonchus oleraceus L. (Asteraceae)

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Appendix 15: Nomination of a target weed for biological control: Common sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus)

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Appendix 16: Proposed plant host test list for assessing risk of candidate biological control agents for Sonchus oleraceus

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Appendix 17: Characterizing ecological interaction networks to support risk assessment in classical biological control of weeds

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Appendix 18: Making host specificity testing more efficient: Exploring the use of abridged test plant lists

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Appendix 19: Assessing the fundamental host-range of Leptinotarsa texana Schaeffer as an essential precursor to biological control risk analysis

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Appendix 20: Assessing the fundamental host-range of Leptinotarsa texana Schaeffer as an essential precursor to biological control risk analysis.

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Appendix 21: Systematic cultivar selection for weed biological control risk assessment

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Appendix 22: Silverleaf nightshade surveys in South America

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Appendix 23: Assessing the risks of biological control to crop and ornamental plant cultivars

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Appendix 24: Application for field release of Listronotus appendiculatus LeConte (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) for the biological control of Sagittaria platyphylla (Engelmann) JG Smith and S. calycina Engelmann (Alismataceae) in Australia

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Appendix 25: Sagittaria biological control field guide

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Appendix 26: Gall thrips Acaciothrips ebneri (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) from Ethiopia, a promising biological control agent for prickly acacia in Australia

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Appendix 27: Biological control of Prickly Acacia (Vachellia Nilotica Subsp. Indica) in Australia: New Gall-inducing agents from Africa

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Appendix 28: Implications of the changing phylogenetic relationships of Acacia s.l. on the biological control of Vachellia nilotica ssp. indica in Australia

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Appendix 29: Proposed plant host test list for assessing risk of biological control agents for Vachellia nilotica subsp. indica

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Project updates

Latest News and Events

22.09.20

Biological weed control providing cost effective, sustainable solutions

A major project led by AgriFutures Australia is gaining momentum in improving the long-term profitability of primary producers through the development of novel weed biocontrol solutions.