When aiming to reduce or eliminate herbicide use, it is important that growers develop a weed control strategy that complements their long-term vineyard management goals. This involves evaluating the situation, assessing the different options available, developing and actioning a weed control plan, and then monitoring and adjusting the plan.
Steps to developing an effective weed management strategy
Step 1: Identify your long-term vineyard goal. Is your goal to improve soil health, maximise yields, maximise quality, conserve water, or reduce inputs? Being clear about your long-term vineyard management goals will help to narrow down the list of tools to consider. For example, if your goal is to conserve water, using undervine cover crops to manage weeds may not be your best choice.
Step 2: Identify the main weeds on your vineyard (for example by using the Weeds Australia website) and determine if any are declared weeds that need to be reported and/or controlled.
Step 3: Monitor the weeds to determine if they are having a negative impact on your vineyard.
Step 4: Understand the life cycle of the main weeds on your vineyard. Site and weather conditions can influence the timing of flowering and seed set. Use resources such as HerbiGuide to get an idea of when weeds will flower and set seed on your vineyard and fine tune this information with in-field monitoring.
Step 5: Determine the location of the main weeds. Are they widespread or isolated to hot spots? Are they across the whole vineyard or only in the mid-row or undervine areas?
Step 6: Determine which are going to be most effective to kill the weeds you have identified.
Step 8: Assess the advantages and disadvantages of the suggested tools and determine if the tool fits in with your long-term weed control goals.
Step 9: Consider the compatibility of the suggested weed control tools with your current practices and existing infrastructure and equipment. Make changes to infrastructure as required.
Step 10: Develop and implement a seasonal weed management plan based on the weed control tools and tactics you are planning to use and the seasonal conditions.
Step 11: Monitor the success of your weed control plan and review and update your strategy to improve weed control outcomes.