Australia Faces Herbicide Resistance, Issues Warning To U.S. No-Tillers

Post-emergents all but useless Down Under, and cases of glyphosate resistance are being monitored as Australian no-tillers are forced to protect the few herbicides that still control weeds.

No-tillers will lose one of their most precious resources — glyphosate herbicide — if they don’t take the threat of weed resistance seriously and act accordingly.

That gloomy warning comes from Stephen Powles, a weed scientist at the University of Western Australia who is widely recognized as one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on weed resistance to herbicides. He developed his expertise while watching and studying resistance spread throughout Australia, and he says the same situation could emerge in the United States.

“It is our dubious distinction in Australia to be number one in the world in herbicide resistance. The U.S. is number two. But you’re going to overtake us and the U.S. is going to be number one in the world in a few years,” he says.

Big Farms

Australia differs from the United States in that it has a hot climate and grows it crops during winter, not during summer when it’s too hot, and it’s all rain-fed agriculture. The big crop is wheat, followed by barley, canola and lupines. There are only 20 million Australians, and about 1 percent of them are farmers. The population of the U.S. is 290 million, and about 2 percent are farmers.

Only 7 to 9 percent of Australians live in rural areas, and the population is moving from the rural areas to the coast and the cities, according to Powles. Australian farms are big family farms. “If you want to make money in Australia, you must have at least 6,000…

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