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Worth the risk? Introduction of legumes can cause more harm than good: an Australian perspective


Paynter, Q and Csurhes, SM and Heard, TM and Ireson, J and Julien, MH and Lloyd, J and Lonsdale, WM and Palmer, WA and Sheppard, AW and VanKlinken, RD, Worth the risk? Introduction of legumes can cause more harm than good: an Australian perspective, Australian Systematic Botany, 16, (1) pp. 81-88. ISSN 1030-1887 (2003) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1071/SB01025


Weeds are serious threats to Australia's primary production and biodiversity conservation. For example, a recent Australia Bureau of Statistics survey found that 47% of farmers across Australia have a significant weed problem. A literature review revealed that legumes represent a significant proportion of the national weed problem and most serious Australian legume weeds are exotic thicket-forming species that were deliberately introduced for their perceived beneficial properties, such as for shade and fodder, or even quite trivial reasons, such as garden ornamentals. The low economic value of the rangelands most of these species infest, compared with control costs, hinders chemical and mechanical control of these weeds, such that biological control, which takes time, is expensive to implement and has no guarantee of success, may represent the only economically viable alternative to abandoning vast tracts of land. We argue that, because the behaviour of an introduced species in a novel environment is so hard to forecast, better predictive techniques should be developed prior to further introductions of plant species into novel environments. We also discuss the potential of legumes currently being promoted in Australia to become weeds and suggest the recent trend of exporting Australian Acacia spp. to semiarid regions of Africa risks history repeating itself and the development of new weed problems that mirror those posed by Australian Acacia spp. in southern Africa.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Crop and pasture production
Research Field:Crop and pasture improvement (incl. selection and breeding)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Ireson, J (Dr John Ireson)
ID Code:33852
Year Published:2003
Web of Science® Times Cited:31
Deposited By:Agricultural Science
Deposited On:2005-07-21
Last Modified:2011-09-27

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