Publication Details

Gill, N., Graham, S., Cross, R. & Taylor, E. (2018). Weed hygiene practices in rural industries and public land management: Variable knowledge, patchy implementation, inconsistent coordination. Journal of Environmental Management, 223 140-149.


Weed management science and practice largely focuses on eradicating, containing and reducing existing weed populations; the focus is on plants in situ. More recently, the redefinition of biosecurity to include weeds has seen greater attention paid to preventing the introduction of weeds to previously uninfested areas within countries. Thus weed hygiene has come to the fore, with a growing number of publications recommending a diverse range of practices to minimise the spread of weeds across farm, regional and state boundaries. Yet little is known about the uptake of weed hygiene practices. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the extent to which best practice weed hygiene is being implemented on, across and along private and public lands. Telephone interviews were conducted with 54 private and public land managers, weed contractors, and agricultural transport operators in New South Wales, Australia. Vehicle hygiene was commonly undertaken across all stakeholder groups when it was consistent with other goals, requirements or norms. Other practices, such as sequencing harvesting from least to most weedy paddocks or including weed hygiene clauses in contracts were often known, but rarely practiced because of the onerous labour and financial costs or concerns about social etiquette. Individual commitment to weed hygiene efforts were also undermined by intra and inter-organisational coordination challenges. Public debate and assessment are needed on the benefits and costs to society of weed hygiene compared to in situ weed control to determine where best to invest limited time and resources.

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