Global research effort takes up resistance challenge

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The evolution of herbicide resistance in weeds in crops poses a real threat to global food production and security, but the battle against it can and must be won.

AHRI director Stephen Powles, left, and GRDC managing director John Harvey at the Global Herbicide Resistance Challenge. This was the message from Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) director Stephen Powles in his opening address (editors: 18 February) to the Global Herbicide Resistance Challenge conference, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

“Especially in the major global grain crops such as rice, wheat, maize and soybean, herbicide resistant weeds are a real threat to productivity,” Professor Powles said.

“In Australia, herbicide resistance is a major problem in cereal cropping systems across the country, especially in ryegrass.

“We must win the battle against herbicide resistance, just as medical science must win the battle against antibiotic resistance.

“To do so we need good science coupled with good agronomy and good engineering.

“We need well trained people at all levels from high science, right through to dedicated farmers implementing a range of practices.

“This is why we are gathered here this week, with 100 speakers and 66 poster presentations addressing all areas of the science of herbicide resistance and its management in global food production.”

Professor Powles said research was learning how to manage a number of aspects of herbicide resistance, and there had been successes including in the area of harvest weed seed control systems in Australian cropping systems.

“This week’s conference – the first of its kind in 30 years and the first ever in the southern hemisphere – reflects a global reinvigoration of research and international collaboration on herbicide resistance,” he said.

Being held at The Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, Western Australia from February 18 to 22, the Global Herbicide Resistance Challenge is an international, multidisciplinary research conference addressing herbicide resistance.

Major issues being discussed include the threat of herbicide resistance and its impact on global grain production, alternatives to chemical weed control and the latest gene modification advances.

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