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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 60(1)

Integrated management of vulpia in dryland perennial pastures of southern Australia

K. N. Tozer A F G, D. F. Chapman A, P. E. Quigley B, P. M. Dowling C, R. D. Cousens D, G. A. Kearney E

A School of Agriculture and Food Systems, The University of Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia.
B 94 Leura Lane, Hamilton, Vic. 3300, Australia.
C School of Rural Management, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 883, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.
D School of Resource Management, Burnley Campus, The University of Melbourne, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond, Vic. 3121, Australia.
E 36 Paynes Road, Hamilton, Vic. 3300, Australia.
F AgResearch, Ruakura Research Centre, East Street, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand.
G Corresponding author. Email: katherine.tozer@agresearch.co.nz
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Vulpia (Vulpia species C.C. Gmel.) are annual grass weeds that can reduce pasture quality and stock-carrying capacity of perennial pastures throughout southern Australia. To develop more effective strategies to control vulpia, an experiment was established in western Victoria (average annual rainfall 565 mm) in phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.) pastures comparing the effects of control methods [comprising combinations of fertiliser addition (Fert), a single herbicide (simazine) application (Sim), and pasture rest from grazing (Rest)] on vulpia populations. A further herbicide treatment [paraquat-diquat (SpraySeed®)] was imposed on some of these treatments. Measurements included botanical composition, phalaris and vulpia tiller density, seed production, and number of residual seeds in the soil. Vulpia content remained unchanged in the Sim-Rest treatment but increased in all other management treatments over the duration of the 3 year study and especially where paraquat-diquat was applied, despite paraquat-diquat causing an initial reduction in vulpia content. Vulpia content was lowest in the Fert-Sim-Rest treatment. The Fert-Sim treatment and in some cases paraquat-diquat application reduced vulpia tiller production. Vulpia seed production and the residual seed population were not influenced by any of the management treatments, while the single paraquat-diquat application increased vulpia seed production 18 months after application. Phalaris content was enhanced by the Sim-Rest and Fert-Sim-Rest treatments and initially by paraquat-diquat. No treatment affected phalaris tiller production and basal cover. The subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) content declined during the experiment, but to a lesser extent where paraquat-diquat was applied. Volunteer species content was initially suppressed in the year following paraquat-application, although populations recovered after this time. Of the two Vulpia spp. present (V. bromoides (L.) S.F. Gray and V. myuros (L.) C.C. Gmelin), V. bromoides was the most prevalent. Results show how a double herbicide application can increase vulpia fecundity and rate of re-infestation of herbicide-treated sites. Pasture rest shows some promise, but to a lesser extent than in the New South Wales tablelands, where summer rainfall may increase the growth of perennial species. In lower rainfall, summer dry areas, responses to pasture rest may be slower. Despite this, integrated management (which combines strategies such as pasture rest, herbicide application, and fertiliser application) increases the perennial content and reduces vulpia seed production, thus improving vulpia control.

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