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Pre-emergent herbicides

These herbicides control weeds between radicle (root shoot) emergence from the seed and seedling emergence through the soil. Some pre-emergent herbicides may also provide post-emergent control.

Benefits and issues

  • The residual activity of pre-emergent herbicides controls the first few flushes of germinating weeds while the crop or pasture is too small to compete.
  • Good planning is needed to use pre-emergent herbicides as an effective tactic. It is necessary to consider weed species and density, crop or pasture type, soil condition and rotation of crop or pasture species.
  • Soil activity and environmental conditions at the time of application play an important role in the availability, activity and persistence of pre-emergent herbicides.
  • Both the positive and negative aspects of using pre-emergent herbicides should be considered in the planning phase.

Selective post-emergent herbicides

These products control weeds that have emerged since crop or pasture establishment and can be applied with little damage to the crop or pasture plants.


  • Post-emergent herbicides give high levels of target weed control with the additional benefit of improved crop or pasture yield.
  • Observations made just prior to application allow fine-tuning of herbicide selection to match weeds present in the paddock.
  • Timing of application can be flexible to suit weed size, crop growth stage and environmental conditions.
  • Some post-emergent herbicides have pre-emergent activity on subsequent weed germinations.


  • Use careful consideration when selecting the best post-emergent herbicide to use in any one situation.
  • Application of post-emergent herbicides to stressed crops and weeds can result in reduced levels of weed control and increased crop damage.
  • Crop competition is important for effective weed control using selective post-emergent herbicides.
  • The technique used for application must be suited for the situation in order to optimise control.
  • Always use the correct adjuvant to ensure effective weed control.
  • Selective post-emergent herbicides applied early and used as a stand-alone tactic have little impact on the weed seedbank.
  • Choose the most suitable formulation of herbicide for each situation.
  • The effectiveness of post-emergent herbicides is influenced by a range of plant and environmental factors.

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