Farmers wanted for Silverleaf Nightshade trials

News article |

The call is out for farmers in the Mid North to take part in a national research project which aims to improve the effectiveness of silverleaf nightshade control. Funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Wool Industry (AWI), the project is targeting a perennial summer weed which costs the agricultural sector millions of dollars in lost production and control.

A Weed of National Significance (WoNS) found across Mid and Upper North districts, silverleaf nightshade has infested thousands of hectares of agricultural land in Northern and Yorke region. It can reduce crop yields by as much as forty per cent.

Project officer Karen Herbert says that research has shown that a systematic "dual action" approach over the growing season from spring to autumn delivers the most effective control.

"We want to demonstrate the research findings to farmers by conducting trials on their land, in which we compare their standard approach with some other dual action treatments," she says.

"Our target is 350 farmers across districts in NSW, Victoria and South Australia where silverleaf nightshade is a significant problem in cropping country."

About one hundred growers have already joined the project, which commenced in December 2014. Field demonstrations will run until April 2017.

"We are looking for several clusters of growers in the Mid North who would be willing to make a paddock or section of a paddock available for 12 to 18 months," Dr Herbert says.

"This would involve allowing a contractor access to the trial sites twice yearly to conduct stem counts and apply herbicides that would be selected by the grower."

"Growers would apply their standard treatments for the rest of the infestation."

The different control practices will be analysed and the results compared with the standard practices that farmers use to manage silverleaf nightshade.

"What we hope to do is identify the best management practice for the local district," Dr Herbert says.

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Landscapes Team Leader Grant Roberts says that 20 to 30 local farmers with medium to heavy or scattered infestations of silverleaf nightshade are being sought for the trials.

"This is a great opportunity for farmers to try some different herbicides and combinations to those they usually work with to control silverleaf nightshade," he says.

"The project will fund contractor time and herbicides, so there will be no cost to farmers."

Spraying will begin in early summer, so anyone interested in joining the project should contact the project officer or the Natural Resources Centre Clare as soon as possible.

For more information contact the Natural Resources Centre Clare on 8841 3444 or Karen Herbert on 0438 297 319

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