Weeds research

Welcome to the NSW DPI Weeds Research Unit web pages. We are one of Australia’s largest providers of innovative and world class research on invasive weeds. Our work provides effective solutions that reduce the economic, environmental and social impacts of weeds. We use and develop cutting edge tools such as robotics, drones and detector dogs, as well as refining the more traditional approaches such as cultural, chemical and biological weed control. For more information on what we do see our Weeds Research Development and Engagement Portfolio.

We work in cropping, grazing and environmental systems, tackling the weeds that affect these systems the most. Current work includes projects on alligator weed, annual ryegrass, barnyard grass, barley grass, cat’s claw creeper, Chilean Needle grass, cylindropuntias, feather-top Rhodes grass, fireweed, fleabane, giants rats tail grass, Madeira vine, mother-of-millions, ox-eye daisy, prickly pear, salvinia, serrated tussock, sowthistle, silverleaf nightshade, tropical soda apple, water lettuce, wild radish and windmill grass.

Our new Weeds Research, Development and Extension Strategy (2016 – 2021) details current work under three major weeds research themes:

  1. Prevention and early intervention;
  2. Mitigating adverse impacts; and
  3. Enhanced adoption and engagement

Prevention and early intervention

We assess and respond to new and potential weed incursions and help prevent these from becoming widely established. This is achieved through improving our understanding of the ecology and genetics of new weeds, and by using new and existing techniques for surveillance and early detection such as robotics, drones, high quality aerial photography, spatial modelling, and DNA and weed detection dogs. It is supported by deploying rapid response teams who work to optimise chemical options for control.


  • Novel weed risk assessment protocols – lessons from Butan
  • Assessing risks and feasibility of Tropical Soda Apple eradication
  • Tropical Soda Apple biology and ecology
  • Plant Sure – Environmentally Safe Ornamental Plant Scheme
  • DNA barcoding using Next Gene Sequencing – a tool for species identification

Mitigating adverse impacts

Mitigating the current impacts of weeds is complex and costly. Here we aim to enhance management approaches through gaining a greater understanding of the biology and ecology of weeds and developing cost effective integrated management strategies to support public and private land managers. These include biocontrol; understanding herbicide resistance; alternative chemicals; and novel grazing and cropping approaches.

Enhanced and alternative management approaches projects

  • Determining the value of pasture to limit serrated tussock invasion
  • Exploring Australian native eucalyptus for its novel bioactive compounds against herbicide resistance
  • Improving integrated weed management practice of emerging weeds
  • Integrating weed tactics for best practice management in cotton farming
  • Mitigation and management of herbicide resistance
  • New uses for existing chemistries
  • Seed bank biology
  • Weed control thresholds

Biological control projects

  • Alligator weed biocontrol
  • Biological control of Cylindropuntia spp.
  • Biological control of fireweed
  • Biological control of giant rat’s tail grass
  • Biological control of Mother-of-millions
  • Biological control of Ox-eye daisy
  • Giant Parramatta grass and giant rat’s tail grass biocontrol production and extension project
  • Shared investment funding model for biological control research and on-ground operation
  • Prioritisation framework for the biological control of environmental weeds

Enhanced adoption and engagement

Effective weed management is a responsibility shared between landholders, community, industry and government. To support effective weed management, research findings have been developed by NSW DPI as best practice information and advice presented in weed profiles (NSW WeedWise), information brochures, booklets and manuals.

However, there is no guarantee that best practice information is absorbed or changes people’s attitudes and behaviour towards weed management. To enhance adoption of research-supported best practice advice, we’ve been developing better communication strategies and extension material for stakeholders. We use tools such as community-based social marketing- a behaviour change framework that reveals the barriers to people managing weeds. Customised strategies and decision support tools for different land managers are then developed and promoted.


  • Applying community based social marketing to tropical soda apple control in the Clarence Valley
  • Capacity Building and Engagement of NSW Weed Professionals
  • Improving adoption of management strategies for summer perennial weeds through effective engagement processes
  • VET – Training Packages on Strategic Pest Management

Key research infrastructure:

NSW DPI research facilities are primarily at Orange, Glenn Innes, Wagga Wagga, Narrabri, Grafton and Tamworth, with links to a network of farmer co-operators for on-farm trials.


In order for us to be effective in weed management research, development and extension we’ve established partnerships and collaborations with regional, national and international providers.

Research funders:

Australian Research Council (ARC), Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, CSIRO Australia, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Environmental Trust, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Local Land Services, McGarvie Smith Foundation, Meat and Livestock Australia, National Heritage Fund, Rural Industries Australian Greenhouse Office, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Rural Research and Development for Profit, Sydney Water Corporation.

Research providers:

Charles Sturt University, CSIRO (several divisions); other state and territory departments of primary industry or agriculture; University of New England, The University of Adelaide, The University of Queensland, University of Canberra, Universities of Sydney, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University.


Beijing University of Chemical Technology and Gansu Agricultural University (China), Government of Bhutan, scientific institutes in Italy and France, Rhodes University and University of KwaZulu-Natal – South Africa, CABI – Switzerland and MICET, United Nations – Food and Agriculture Organisation, University of Antananarivo – Madagascar, World Bank projects in China.

If you’d like to become actively involved in our research programs, either as a student or as a partner organisation, please get in touch.


P: 1800 680 244
E: weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au