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Weed & Pest Management

Insect pest damage, and competition for space and nutrients from weeds can significantly reduce the productivity and persistence of Australian pasture

AWI invests in a range of projects to manage both established and emerging weeds and pests of pastures. Several projects focus on improved control of the major weeds and pests affecting pasture productivity and wool quality.

Weed Management

Weeds are estimated to cost Australian livestock industries $2.1 billion per annum in control costs and lost production.
AWI developed the 3D weed management tools to minimize the impact of priority weeds on pasture productivity and wool quality.  The '3Ds' of weed management are:

  • Deliberation - consider the current weed problem and the desired level of weed control.
  • Diversity - use a combination of tools to control weeds.
  • Diligence - continue to manage the weed problem to keep it at the desired level of control.

Implementing the '3Ds' of weed management can increase pasture competitiveness while reducing the proportion of weed species in the pasture.

AWI also funded research into the ecology, biocontrol and management of several established and new weeds of Australian pastures, including Bathurst burr, lippia, prairie ground cherry and Mexican feather grass.

Flowering Paterson's curse, Echium plantagineum)


Sub Clover Red Leaf Syndrome

Research into subterranean clover red leaf syndrome has determined the main cause of the syndrome as Soybean Dwarf Virus (SbDV), which is spread by aphids, but it is likely that a number of other contributing stress factors are involved.

Symptoms of the virus include reddening leaves, stunted plant growth and premature plant death which can lead to significant loss of dry matter and seed production.

Loss of sub clover production is greatest when the plants are infected by the virus in autumn or early winter.

Detailed guidance to help producers manage the syndrome was produced by AWI, MLA, UWA and DPIRD in 2018 in the form of an 8-page fact sheet.

To help researchers and RDCs determine the extent of the syndrome, producers are also encouraged to continue reporting incidents of it via the online producer survey which is conducted jointly by AWI and MLA.

Sub Clover Red Leaf Syndrome (Source: DPIRD)


Pasture Pests

Redlegged earth mite (RLEM) is a major pest of pastures and crops across southern Australia, costing Australian farmers an estimated $200 million per year in lost production.

RLEM are destructive pasture pests.  They pierce holes in the leaf cells to suck out the sap, causing "silvering" of the leaves. RLEM damage pasture plants at all stages of growth.  Autumn infestations severely reduce seedling establishment, limiting pasture productivity and seed set in the following spring.  Damage to older plants can also substantially reduce dry matter production and seed yield.

RLEM are found in the winter-dominant rainfall areas of southern Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Using the on-line tool, Timerite® woolgrowers can reduce the quantity and frequency of chemical sprays applied to pasture to control RLEM, and increase pasture productivity and persistence.

Close-up of redlegged earth mite.



Timerite® is an on-line tool developed by AWI and CSIRO to give the optimal spray date for effective control of RLEM for your local area.  To control RLEM, pesticide must be applied to the maximum of live mites and minimum number of eggs, as pesticides do not kill RLEM eggs. Timerite® identifies this date in the RLEM lifecycle for specific locations.  Spraying on the right Timerite® date in spring gives optimal RLEM control next Autumn when annual legumes are most susceptible.

Timerite® was tested over seven years on sixty farms across southern Australia. On average, a single spray at the Timerite® date in spring gave 93% RLEM control in autumn eight months later.

Further Information

Silverleaf Nightshade: Australian Best Practice Management Manual 2018 (PDF 12.5MB)

3D Weed Management - click the links to learn more about the '3Ds' of weed management for priority pasture weeds in the livestock industry:

Priority weeds - management and biocontrol (PDF 153Kb) of Bathurst burr, lippia, serrated tussock, Paterson's curse and Onopordum thistles.

Lippia - recent AWI-funded research into the ecology, biocontrol and management the problem weed:

Timerite® - calculate your optimal spray date for effective control of redlegged earth mite (RLEM).  Click the links to:

WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development: