Complementing biological control with plant suppression: implications for improved management of parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus L.).
Parthenium hysterophorus L. is a weed of global significance that has become a major weed in Australia and many other parts of the world. A combined approach for the management of parthenium weed using biological control and plant suppression, was tested under field conditions over a two-year period in southern central Queensland. The six suppressive plant species, selected for their demonstrably suppressive ability in earlier glasshouse studies, worked synergistically with the biological control agents (Epiblema strenuana Walker, Zygogramma bicolorata Pallister, Listronotus setosipennis Hustache and Puccinia abrupta var. partheniicola) present in the field to reduce the growth (above ground biomass) of parthenium weed, by between 60-86% and 47-91%, in Years 1 and 2, respectively. The biomass of the suppressive plants was between 6% and 23% greater when biological control agents were present than when the biological control agents had been excluded. This shows that parthenium weed can be more effectively managed by combining the current biological control management strategy with selected sown suppressive plant species, both in Australia and elsewhere.