Tillage based, site-specific weed control for conservation cropping systems

Michael J. Walsh, Caleb C. Squires, Guy R.Y. Coleman, Michael J. Widderick, Adam B. McKiernan, Bhagirath S. Chauhan, Carlo Peressini, Andrew L. Guzzomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Australian conservation cropping systems are practiced on very large farms (approximately 3,000 ha) where herbicides are relied on for effective and timely weed control. In many fields, though, there are low weed densities (e.g., <1.0 plant 10 m-2) and whole-field herbicide treatments are wasteful. For fallow weed control, commercially available weed detection systems provide the opportunity for site-specific herbicide treatments, removing the need for whole-field treatment of fallow fields with low weed densities. Concern about the sustainability of herbicide-reliant weed management systems remain and there has not been interest in the use of weed detection systems for alternative weed control technologies, such as targeted tillage. In this paper, we discuss the use of a targeted tillage technique for site-specific weed control in large-scale crop production systems. Three small-scale prototypes were used for engineering and weed control efficacy testing across a range of species and growth stages. With confidence established in the design approach and a demonstrated 100% weed-control potential, a 6-m wide pre-commercial prototype, the Weed Chipper, was built incorporating commercially available weed-detection cameras for practical field-scale evaluation. This testing confirmed very high (90%) weed control efficacies and associated low levels (1.8%) of soil disturbance where the weed density was fewer than 1.0 plant 10 m-2 in a commercial fallow. These data established the suitability of this mechanical approach to weed control for conservation cropping systems. The development of targeted tillage for fallow weed control represents the introduction of site-specific, nonchemical weed control for conservation cropping systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-710
Number of pages7
JournalWeed Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


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