Herbicide resistance

Page last updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2019 - 12:25pm

Options for herbicide resistance testing

There are a number of different methods of testing for herbicide resistance. Tests can be performed in situ (in the paddock during the growing season), on seed collected from the suspect area or by sending live plant samples to a testing service.

Resistance testing

This can be conducted on-farm or by a commercial resistance testing service.

In-situ testing

An in-situ test can be performed following herbicide failure in a paddock. The test should be done at the earliest opportunity, remembering that the weeds will be larger than when the initial herbicide was applied. Test strips should be applied using herbicide rates appropriate to the current crop growth stage and weed size, plus a double rate. The test strips should only be applied if the weeds are stress free and actively growing. To more accurately assess the level of control, conduct weed plant counts before and after application. Green or dry plant weights can be calculated for more accurate results.

Herbicide resistance seed tests

Seed tests require collection of suspect weed seed from the paddock at the end of the season. This seed is generally submitted to a commercial testing service.

There are two commercial seed testing services in Australia

  1. Peter Boutsalis, Plant Scince Consulting
  2. John Broster, Charles Sturt University, +61 (0)2 6933 4001

Approximately 3000 seeds of each weed (an A4-sized envelope full of good seed heads) is required for a multiple resistance test. This equates to about one cup of annual ryegrass seed and six cups of wild radish pods.

Pots of annual ryegrass tested for glyphosate resistance; the plant on the left has died, therefore its susceptible, the plant on the right is alive therefore it is strongly resistant.
 Pots of annual ryegrass tested for glyphosate resistance; susceptible (left) and strongly resistant (right) (photo: Peter Boutsalis)

Syngenta herbicide resistance Quick-Test™

The Syngenta herbicide resistance Quick-Test™ (QT) uses whole plants collected from a paddock rather than seeds, eliminating the problem of seed dormancy and enabling a far more rapid turnaround time. In addition, the tests are conducted during the growing season rather than out of season over the summer. A resistance status result for a weed sample is possible within four to six weeks. The QT, which was developed by Dr Peter Boutsalis while working for Syngenta in Switzerland, is patented in Australia.

For each herbicide to be tested, 50 plants are required. To reduce postage costs, plants can be trimmed to remove excess roots and shoots. Upon arrival at the testing service, plants are carefully trimmed to produce cuttings and transplanted into pots. After appearance of new leaves (normally 5-7 days), plants are treated with herbicide in a spray cabinet. The entire procedure, from paddock sampling to reporting results, takes between 4-6 weeks, depending on postage time and the herbicides being tested. Unlike paddock tests, the QT is performed under controlled conditions, so it is not affected by adverse weather conditions. The age of the plants is also less critical to the testing procedure. Trimming the plants prior to herbicide application means that herbicides are applied to actively growing leaves, thus mimicking chemical application to young seedlings. The Quick-Test™ has been used to test resistance in both grass and broadleaf weed species. During testing, both known sensitive and resistant biotypes are included for comparison.

Quick-Tests can be done with Peter Boutsalis, Plant Science Consulting.

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