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Abstract

Sowing phases of French serradella ( Ornithopus sativus Brot.) pasture between extended cropping sequences in the Western Australian wheatbelt can sustain grain production through restoring soil fertility and reducing selective herbicide use. The objective of this article is to investigate the profitability of rotations involving this pasture under a variety of weed management scenarios to obtain greater insight into its value for mixed farming systems in this region. A stochastic search procedure, compressed annealing, is used to identify profitable sets of weed management strategies in a simulation model representing a large number of potential combinations of chemical and non-chemical forms of weed control. In contrast to a continuous-cropping sequence, the inclusion of a serradella phase in a rotation is profitable at high weed densities and with increasing levels of herbicide resistance. A single year of pasture in the rotation is optimal if resistance to Group A selective herbicides is present at the beginning of the planning horizon, but a three-year phase is required if resistance to multiple herbicide groups is observed. Sowing a serradella pasture twice over a two-year phase is also shown to be economically attractive given benefits of successive high weed kills.

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