Weed Science

Introduction

Few people in this world escape the deleterious effects of weeds. Whether you are a grazier who has a problem with shrub weeds competing with pastures over vast areas of inland Australia or you are an inner-city apartment dweller who has weed control costs passed onto them in higher food prices, all people are affected. Consider the time spent pulling out weeds in gardens alone around the world and you will soon realise why it is said that more energy is expended in the weeding of crops than in any other single human task.

Weeds are estimated to cost Australia approximately $4 billion annually. This estimate includes the financial costs of weed control for agricultural land managers (for example chemicals, vehicles and fuel, hired and contract labour), as well as yield losses in agriculture. Approximately $100 million is spent on weed control in natural and public lands (e.g. National Parks and National Heritage Trust land). Weeds continue to invade new areas and many are becoming resistant to the herbicides used to control them. So the challenges are great and it is imperative for us to continue to devise new ways to manage weeds in Australia effectively.

Why Study Weed Science at UNE?

UNE is one of Australia's leading university providers of undergraduate and postgraduate agricultural education, having an enviable 5 star rating for student satisfaction and being uniquely located with ready access to cropping, horticulture and pasture field sites for teaching and research.

Our lecturers have expertise in a range of weed science topics, including pasture weed ecology and management, broadacre and horticulture crop weed ecology and management, weed seed banks, weed surveys, crop competition and herbicide tolerance, and organic weed management techniques.

Relevant units cover topics such as: agricultural weed identification, ecology and adaptation; ecological, physical, biological and chemical control techniques; the main groups of weeds and their impact; chemical resistance in weeds; and plant biosecurity. Specific units on grains and cotton crop protection include topics on weed management.

Integrated Weed Management

Our unit on integrated weed management (AGRO422/522), developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Weed Management Systems, aims to give students an understanding of how weeds function so as to be able to exploit their weaknesses.

The unit includes information on the latest techniques and ideas on weed management as applied to Australian ecosystems, whether they be crops, pastures or the natural environment.

Topics covered include weed identification, weed ecology, weed management (including biological, cultural and chemical techniques) and integrated weed management, which combines all appropriate weed management methods.

Students have the option to specialise in cropping systems, pastures, vegetables, orchards and vineyards, lawns and turf, plantation forests, conservation reserves and national parks, rangelands or aquatic systems.

Courses
Units

AGRO211 - Identification and Adaptation of Agricultural Plants
AGRO311 - Plant Protection
AGRO321 - Crop Production
AGRO422/522 - Integrated Weed Management
AGRO501 - Organic Agriculture - Principles and Practice
AGRO514 - Plant Biosecurity
COTT301/401/501 - Cotton Crop Protection
GRNS301/401/501 - Grain Crop Protection

Careers

Graduates with training in weed science may find a variety of career paths available to them, including:

  • agronomic advisory work with government departments of primary industries, agricultural produce companies and private agricultural consulting firms, with a specialisation in weed management consultation, and developing weed management systems for clients;
  • working in government departments involved in rural weed management and enforcement, such local government weed control authorities, in a variety of roles including weed control, inspection and enforcement, weed management planning, or extension;
  • natural resource management with a focus on weed management, with Catchment Management Authorities, Landcare and other natural resource management organizations;
  • working with a Commonwealth department dealing with quarantine and plant biosecurity;
  • working with chemical companies in research and development, or sales and marketing; and
  • research work with a university, CSIRO or government department.
Partnerships, Networks and Industry Links

Weed Research and Management

  • AusAID (Australian Agency for International Development)
  • Cotton RDC (Cotton Research and Development Corporation)
  • CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)
  • DAFF (Australian Government Department of Agriculture)
  • GRDC (Grains Research and Development Corporation)
  • HAL (Horticulture Australia Limited)
  • NSW DPI (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)
  • Qld DAFF (Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry)
  • Vic DEPI (Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries)
  • RIRDC (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation)

Weed Information

Facilities

UNE has a new state-of-the-art glasshouse complex and several properties on which research and teaching are undertaken, the closest of which are adjacent to the campus, with farming equipment suitable for small and large scale agronomic trials.  There are excellent laboratories for plant nutrition and crop protection research.  Analytical facilities include ICP-OES, ion chromatograph, Carlo-Erba-MS CNS analyser, NIRS, GC-MS and HPLC.  We have a range of field and laboratory equipment for measuring soil structure, soil mechanical properties, and soil water (neutron probes, TDR, capacitance probes, pressure plates).

Research

For information on our research activities, please visit the pages of the Weed Science group at UNE.

Contacts

For general and administrative enquiries, AskUNE.

For information and advice about studying Weed Science at UNE:

Professor Brian Sindel
Phone: +61 2 6773 3747
Email: bsindel@une.edu.au