Weeds are a significant biosecurity issue that affect all members of PHA, reducing yields and costing Australian producers a vast amount of time and money.
The scope of Australia’s biosecurity system covers more than insect pests and diseases, with activities in place to reduce the threat of new weeds and minimise the impact of weeds on growers and land owners. Weed infestations result in significant costs and pose serious threats to primary production, amenity landscapes and the natural environment.
Substantial resources are invested by a diversity of organisations to manage weeds on a local, regional and national level. Conservatively, it has been estimated that the total annual economic cost of weeds to Australia is over $4 billion.
In a plant production context, weeds compete with commercial crops for space, water and nutrients, resulting in reduced yields and crop quality, and can contaminate harvested produce.
In livestock industries, weeds compete with pasture plants reducing the carrying capacity of the land, and can injure livestock through physical injury, poisoning or contaminating fleeces. In addition, weed contamination prevents some commodities from meeting export standards, affecting domestic and international market access.
Weeds also impact the natural environment, where exotic or native plant species invade areas of natural vegetation and directly impact native species diversity or ecosystems. Weeds, together with invasive animals, insects and diseases, are recognised as the most significant threat to biodiversity after loss of habitat.
Weed management is a priority and is undertaken by governments, natural resource management bodies, through to growers and the wider community.
The management of weeds aims to:
- prevent new species arriving in Australia through a range of quarantine activities
- eradicate newly arrived or established weeds
- contain weeds which are too widespread for feasible eradication in order to reduce their spread and impact
- protect assets, including environment, agriculture, fisheries and community, from the impacts of established weed species.