Agricultural weed assessment calculator: an Australian evaluation.
Weed risk assessment systems are used to estimate the potential weediness or invasiveness of introduced species in non-agricultural habitats. However, an equivalent system has not been developed for weed species that occur in agronomic cropland. Therefore, the Agricultural Weed Assessment Calculator (AWAC) was developed to quantify the present and potential future adverse impact of a weed species on crop production and profitability (threat analysis), thereby informing or directing research, development, and extension (RDE) investments or activities. AWAC comprises 10 questions related primarily to a weed's abundance and economic impact. Twenty weed species from across Australia were evaluated by AWAC using existing information and expert opinion, and rated as high, medium, or low for RDE prioritization based on total scores of 70 to 100, 40 to <70, or <40, respectively. Five species were rated as high (e.g., Lolium rigidum Gaud.), eight were rated as medium (e.g., Conyza spp.), and seven were rated as low (e.g., Rapistrum rugosum L.). Scores were consistent with the current state of knowledge of the species' impact on grain crop production in Australia. AWAC estimated the economic or agronomic threat of 20 major or minor agricultural weeds from across Australia. The next phase of development is the testing of AWAC by weed practitioners (e.g., agronomists, consultants, farmers) to verify its utility and robustness in accurately assessing these and additional weed species.