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Self-weeding crops could save billions

AAP logoAAP 27/09/2016 David Sigston

Scientists are working on a possible solution to Australian farmers' multi-billion dollar weed problem.

The ground-breaking research, conducted at Charles Sturt University, has managed to successfully create two varieties of canola able to release their own form of herbicides into the ground.

Australian farmers lose more than $3 billion and 2.76 million tonnes of harvest a year because of weeds according to the study.

"Weeds are still largely being controlled by synthetic herbicides, but many species are evolving resistance," said research team leader Professor Jim Pratley.

Pratley and his team studied a weed called silver grass and found it would secrete herbicidal chemicals from its roots, giving it a better chance to thrive.

"We thought, if weeds have these chemicals, crops may have them too," Professor Pratley said.

In lab experiments of 70 different canola varieties, two were found to reduce the growth of weed roots by 70 per cent.

Professor Pratley is hopeful further testing will reveal a breeding program for scientists to develop to help combat weeds.

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