The role and value of eastern star clover in managing herbicide-resistant crop weeds: A whole-farm analysis
In the broadacre dryland farming system of Western Australia herbicide resistance in major crop weeds is an increasingly serious problem. A new option to combat herbicide resistance involves growing eastern star clover (Trifolium dasyurum). This is a new pasture legume with a unique delayed germination that allows control of weeds using various chemical and non-chemical strategies, without unduly compromising the pasture's subsequent production. This study assesses the role and value of eastern star clover in managing herbicide-resistant weeds on various farms. The study employs the farming system model known as MIDAS, a whole-farm, bioeconomic model. Key scenarios of different degrees of severity of herbicide resistance for three farm types are examined. The main findings of the analysis are that as the severity of herbicide resistance increases, eastern star clover becomes an increasingly attractive option. Although the introduction of eastern star clover does reduce a farm's capacity to carry sheep, and thereby lessens profits generated by the sheep enterprise, it enables longer, more profitable sequences of crops to be grown with fewer weed problems. Sensitivity analysis suggests that reduced cost of eastern star clover seed, cheap supplementary feed, and higher grain prices will further increase the profitability of eastern star clover.
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