Herbicides are more cost-effective than alternative weed control methods for increasing early growth of Eucalyptus dunnii and Eucalyptus saligna
Source: New Forests, Volume 24, Number 2, September 2002 , pp. 147-163(17)
Effective weed control is an essential management task in establishing commercial tree plantations. Much of the current weed control strategies employed in Australian forestry relies on the use of available herbicides. However, given community concern regarding the use of herbicides, investigation of alternative weed control methods is warranted. We tested the ability and cost-effectiveness of mechanical (hand weeding and inter-row slashing), mulching (sawdust over newsprint, woodchips and jute), cover crops and herbicide applications for weed control in establishing eucalypt plantations. Jute matting and herbicide treatments reduced weed competition and increased seedling growth to age 2 years in plantations of Eucalyptus dunnii and Eucalyptus saligna in northern NSW, Australia. Growth increased by 269 % (Experiment 1) and 196 % (Experiment 2) in the Jute and by 216 % (Experiment 2) in the Herbicide treatments when compared to the control (no weed control) at 2 years age. As the Jute material deteriorated, after nearly 2 years, weed cover increased and there were significantly more weeds present in the Jute treatment compared to the Herbicide treatment. Jute matting costs approximately 15 times more than the herbicide regime used and, therefore, could not presently be considered a viable option for weed control in commercial eucalypt plantations. Other weed control treatments, including hand weeding, sawdust and woodchip mulches, slashing and sowing cover crops did not effectively control weeds and did not improve survival or increase seedling growth to age 2 relative to the control. We conclude that herbicides remain the most cost-effective weed control option available to commercial growers of eucalypt plantations.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: State Forests of NSW, Northern Research, Research and Development Division, Coffs Harbour Jetty, 2450, Australia 2: State Forests of NSW, Hardwood Plantations Division, 123 West High Street, Coffs Harbour, 2450, Australia
Publication date: September 1, 2002