The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

Assessment of current weed control methods relevant to the management of the biodiversity of Australian rangelands

J. S. Vitelli A C and J. L. Pitt B

A CRC for Australian Weed Management, PMB 1, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia. Current address: Tropical Weeds Research Centre, Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Water, PO Box 187, Charters Towers, Qld 4820, Australia.

B Rural Solutions, Department of Primary Industries and Resources, PO Box 822, Clare, SA 5453, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 28(1) 37-46
Submitted: 17 February 2006  Accepted: 16 March 2006   Published: 29 May 2006


The Australian rangelands contain extensive and often dense populations of a wide variety of weed species. An array of techniques is available for effectively controlling many of these. To achieve long-term weed control, weeds should be targeted objectively and the dependence on the use of single treatments such as herbicides and machinery reduced, with greater adoption of integrated methods. The combination of methods will differ if the primary objective within the rangelands is to restore and maintain biodiversity or to improve forage production for domestic and native animals. Revegetation of sites and exclusion of herbivores from weed treated areas is important in establishing species that will compete with invasive weeds. Due to rangelands being sparsely populated, the necessary equipment, skills and finances to use appropriate control options on extensive weed infestations are often lacking, with landholders requiring the assistance of local, state and federal authorities to assist in managing weeds.

Additional keyword: integrated management.


Andersen A. N. Cook G. D. Corbett L. K. Douglas M. M. Eager R. W. Russell-Smith J. Setterfield S. A. Williams R. J. Woinarski J. C. Z. 2005 Fire frequency and biodiversity conservation in Australian tropical savannas: implications from the Kapalga fire experiment. Austral Ecology 30 155 167 doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.2005.01441.x

Andres L. A. 1977 The economics of biological control of weeds. Aquatic Botany 3 111 123 doi:10.1016/0304-3770(77)90011-0

Ansley R. J. Ben Wu X. Kramp B. A. 2001 Observation: Long-term increases in mesquite canopy cover in a North Texas savanna. Journal of Range Management 54 171 176

Ansley R. J. , and Jacoby P. W. (1998). Manipulation of fire intensity to achieve mesquite management goals in north Texas. In: ‘Fire in ecosystem management: shifting the paradigm from suppression to prescription. Proceedings of the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference No. 20’. (Eds A. L. Brennan and T. L. Pruden.) pp. 195–204. (Tall Timbers Research Station: Tallahassee, FL.)

Ansley R. J. Jones D. L. Tunnell T. R. Kramp B. A. Jacoby P. W. 1998 Honey mesquite canopy responses to single winter fires: relation to herbaceous fuel, weather and fire temperature. International Journal of Wildland Fire 8 241 252

Ansley R. J. Pinchak W. E. Teague W. R. Kramp B. A. Jones D. L. Jacoby P. W. 2004 Long-term grass yields following chemical control of honey mesquite. Journal of Range Management 57 49 57

Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (2002). ‘Minor use.’ Available online at: (accessed 31 March 2006).

Bangsund D. A. Nudell D. J. Sell R. S. Leistritz F. L. 2001 Economic analysis of using sheep to control leafy spurge. Journal of Range Management 54 322 329

Bastin G. N. Ludwig J. A. Eager R. W. Liedloff A. C. Andison R. T. Cobiac M. D. 2003 Vegetation changes in a semiarid tropical savanna, northern Australia: 1973–2002. The Rangeland Journal 25 3 19

Bebawi F. F. Campbell S. D. 2002 a Impact of early and late dry-season fires on plant mortality and seed banks within riparian and subriparian infestations of rubber vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora). Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 42 43 48 doi:10.1071/EA01047

Bebawi F. F. Campbell S. D. 2002 b Impact of fire on bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) plant mortality and seedling recruitment. Tropical Grasslands 36 129 137

Bebawi F. F. Campbell S. D. 2002 c The response of bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) plants cut off at different heights and seasonal times. Tropical Grasslands 36 65 68

Bennett L. T. Judd T. S. Adams M. A. 2003 Growth and nutrient content of perennial grasslands following burning in semi-arid, sub-tropical Australia. Plant Ecology 164 185 199

Benz L. J. Beck K. G. Whitson T. D. Koch D. W. 1999 Reclaiming Russian knapweed infested rangeland. Journal of Range Management 52 351 356

Brown J. R. Archer S. 1999 Shrub invasion of grassland: recruitment is continuous and not regulated by herbaceous biomass or density. Ecology 80 2385 2396

Buckley Y. M. Rees M. Paynter Q. Lonsdale M. 2004 Modelling integrated weed management of an invasive shrub in tropical Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 41 547 560

Campbell S. D. Grice A. C. 2000 Weed biology: a foundation for weed management. Tropical Grasslands 34 271 279

Campbell S. D. Setter C. L. 2002 Mortality of Prosopis pallida (mesquite) following burning. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 42 581 586

Cobon D. (1996). Use of goats for woody weed control. In: ‘Proceedings of the 4th Queensland Weeds Symposium’. pp. 69–74. (Weed Society of Queensland: Longreach, Qld.)

Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management (2004). ‘Weedwatch newsletter.’ Avalable online at: (accessed 31 March 2006).

Craig A. B. 1999 Fire management of rangelands in the Kimberley low-rainfall zone: a review. The Rangeland Journal 21 39 70 doi:10.1071/RJ9990039

DiTomaso J. M. 2000 Invasive weeds in rangelands: species, impacts, and management. Weed Science 48 255 265

Douglas M. M. , Setterfield S. A. , Rossiter N. , Barratt J. , and Hutley L. (2004). Effects of mission grass (Pennisetum polystachion (L.) Schult.) invasion on fuel loads and nitrogen availability in a northern Australia tropical savanna. In: ‘Proceedings of the 14th Australian Weeds Conference’. (Eds B. M. Sindel and S. B. Johnson.) pp. 179–181. (Ligare Pty Ltd.: Sydney.)

Dyer R. , Jacklyn P. , Partidge I. , Russell-Smith J. , and Williams R. J. (2001). ‘Savanna burning: understanding and using fire in northern Australia.’ (Tropical Savannas CRC: Darwin.)

Freckleton R. P. 2004 The problems of prediction and scale in applied ecology: the example of fire as a management tool. Journal of Applied Ecology 41 599 603

Gardiner H. G. 1986 a Dynamics of perennial plants in the mulga (Acacia aneura F.Muell.) zone of Western Australia. I. Rates of population change. Australian Rangeland Journal 8 18 27 doi:10.1071/RJ9860018

Gardiner H. G. 1986 b Dynamics of perennial plants in the mulga (Acacia aneura F.Muell.) zone of Western Australia. II. Survival of perennial shrubs and grasses. Australian Rangeland Journal 8 28 34

Grice A. C. 1997 Post-fire regrowth and survival of the invasive tropical shrubs Cryptostegia grandiflora and Ziziphus mauritiana. Australian Journal of Ecology 22 49 55

Grice A. C. 2004 Weeds and the monitoring of biodiversity in Australian rangelands. Austral Ecology 29 51 58

Grice A. C. 2006 The impacts of invasive plant species on the biodiversity of Australian rangelands. The Rangeland Journal 28 27 35

Grice A. C. and Slatter S. M. (1997). Fire in the management of northern Australian pastoral lands. Tropical Grassland Society of Australia Occasional Publication No. 8. (Tropical Grassland Society Inc.: Brisbane.)

Grice A. C. , Campbell S. D. , and Vitelli J. S. (2000). The principles and practice of weed control for northern Australia. In: ‘Proceedings of the Northern Grassy Landscapes Conference’. pp. 59–64. (Tropical Savannas CRC: Darwin.)

Griffin G. F. (1984). Vegetation patterns. In: ‘Anticipating the inevitable: a patch-burn strategy for fire management at Uluru (Ayers Rock–Mt Olga) National Park’. (Ed. E. C. Saxon.) pp. 7–12. (CSIRO: Melbourne.)

Harley K. L. S. , and Forno I. W. (1992). ‘Biological control of weeds a handbook for practitioners and students.’ (Inkata Press: Melbourne.)

Henson S. E. Skroch W. A. Burton J. D. 1996 Weed management in rough turf using the Burch wet blade application system. Weed Science Society of America Abstracts 36 74

Henson S. E. Skroch W. A. Burton J. D. Worsham A. D. 2003 Herbicide efficacy using a wet-blade application system. Weed Technology 17 320 324

James C. D. Landsberg J. Morton S. R. 1999 Provision of watering points in the Australian arid zone: a review of effects on biota. Journal of Arid Environments 41 87 121

Julien M. H. 2006 Biological control of rangeland weeds in Australia. The Rangeland Journal 28 47 54

Kriticos D. Brown J. Radford I. Nicholas M. 1999 Plant population ecology and biological control: Acacia nilotica as a case study. Biological Control 16 230 239

Landsberg J. James C. D. Morton S. R. Muller W. J. Stol J. 2003 Abundance and composition of plant species along grazing gradients in Australian rangelands. Journal of Applied Ecology 40 1008 1024 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2003.00862.x

Letnic M. 2004 Cattle grazing in a hummock grassland regenerating after fire: the short-term effects of cattle exclusion on vegetation in south-western Queensland. The Rangeland Journal 26 34 48 doi:10.1071/RJ04003

Lynes B. C. Campbell S. D. 2000 Germination and viability of mesquite (Prosopis pallida) seed following ingestion and excretion by feral pigs (Sus scrofa). Tropical Grasslands 34 125 128

Mackey A. P. 1997 The biology of Australian weeds 29. Acacia nilotica ssp. indica (Benth.) Brenan. Plant Protection Quarterly 12 8 17

Martin T. G. Campbell S. Grounds S. 2006 Weeds of Australian rangelands. The Rangeland Journal 28 3 26

McKenzie J. R. , Pattison M. J. , Steele K. E. , Campbell S. D. , and Vitelli J. S. (2004). Controlling dense infestations of parkinsonia (Parkinsonia aculeata L.). In: ‘Proceedings of the 14th Australian Weeds Conference’. (Eds B. M. Sindel and S. B. Johnson.) pp. 176–178. (Ligare Pty Ltd.: Sydney.)

Meney K. , Dixon B. , and Moonie P. (2002). Control of bridal creeper Asparagus asparagoides on King Park Scarp and limiting factors on its growth and spread. In: ‘The 13th Australian Weeds Conference’. (Eds H. Spafford-Jacob, J. Dodd and J. H. Moore.) pp. 113–116. (Shannon Books: Melbourne.)

Powles S. B. Lorraine-Colwill D. F. Dellow J. J. Preston C. 1998 Evolved resistance to glyphosate in rigid ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) in Australia. Weed Science 46 604 607

Powles S. B. , Preston C. , Bryan I. B. , and Jutsum A. R. (1997). Herbicide resistance: impact and management. In: ‘Advances in agronomy’. Vol 58. pp. 57–93. (Academic Press Inc.: San Diego.)

Pratley J. , Stanton R. , Urwin N. , Baines P. , Hudson. D. , and Dill G. (1999). Resistance of annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) biotypes to glyphosate. In: ‘Proceedings of the 12th Australian Weeds Conference’. (Eds A. C. Bishop, M. Boersma and C. D. Barnes.) pp. 223–225. (Tasmanian Weed Society: Devonport.)

Rinella M. J. Jacobs J. S. Sheley R. L. Borkowski J. J. 2001 Spotted knapweed response to season and frequency of mowing. Journal of Range Management 54 52 56

Rossiter N. , Setterfield S. , Douglas M. , Hutley L. , and Cook G. (2004). Exotic grass invasion in the tropical savanna of northern Australia: ecosystems consequences. In: ‘Proceedings of the 14th Australian Weeds Conference’. (Eds B. M. Sindel and S. B. Johnson.) pp. 168–171.

Sheley R. L. Krueger-Mangold J. 2003 Principles for restoring invasive plant-infested rangeland. Weed Science 51 260 265

Silcock R. G. , and Beale I. F. (1986). Complete destocking will not reclaim some Australian rangelands. In: ‘Working papers of the 4th Biennial Conference of the Australian Rangelands Society’. pp. 150–153. (Australian Rangeland Society: Armidale.)

Stafford Smith D. M. Morton S. R. 1990 A framework for the ecology of arid Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 18 255 278

Suijdendorp H. (1981). Responses of the hummock grasslands of northwestern Australia. In: ‘Fire and the Australian biota’. (Eds A. M. Gill, R. H. Groves and I. R. Noble.) pp. 417–424. (Australian Academy of Science: Canberra.)

Swarbrick J. T. Willson B. W. Hannan-Jones M. A. 1995 The biology of Australian weeds 25: Lantana camara L. Plant Protection Quarterly 10 82 95

Teague R. Borchardt R. Ansley J. Pinchak B. Cox J. Foy J. K. McGrann J. 1997 Sustainable management strategies for mesquite rangeland: the Waggoner Kite project. The Rangeland Journal 19 4 8

The Nature Conservancy (2006). ‘Global invasive species initiative.’ Available online at: (accessed 31 March 2006).

Thill D. C. Lish J. M. Callihan R. H. Bechinski E. J. 1991 Integrated weed management – a component of integrated pest management: a critical review. Weed Technology 5 648 656

Vitelli J. S. Madigan B. A. 2004 Evaluation of a hand-held burner for the control of woody weeds by flaming. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 44 75 81

Weeds Australia (2004 a). ‘Weeds of National Significance.’ Available online at: (accessed 31 March 2006).

Weeds Australia (2004 b). ‘Weed spread.’ Available online at: (accessed 31 March 2006).

Weeds Australia (2004 c). ‘National CNG Taskforce newsletter.’ Available online at: (accessed 31 March 2006).

Export Citation