There has been recent interest in determining the upper limits to the feasibility of weed eradication. Although a number of disparate factors determine the success of an eradication program, ultimately eradication feasibility must be viewed in the context of the amount of investment that can be made. The latter should reflect the hazard posed by an invasion, with greater investment justified by greater threats. In simplest terms, the effort (and hence investment) to achieve weed eradication comprises the detection effort required to delimit an invasion plus the search and control effort required to prevent reproduction until extirpation occurs over the entire infested area. The difficulty of estimating the required investment at the commencement of a weed eradication program (as well as during periodic reviews) is a serious problem. Bioeconomics show promise in determining the optimal approach to managing weed invasions, notwithstanding ongoing difficulties in estimating the costs and benefits of eradication and alternative invasion management strategies. A flexible approach to the management of weed invasions is needed, allowing for the adoption of another strategy when it becomes clear that the probability of eradication is low, owing to resourcing or intractable technical issues. Whether the considerable progress that has been achieved towards eradication of the once massive witchweed invasion can be duplicated for other weeds of agricultural systems will depend to a large extent upon investment (> $250 million over 50 yr in this instance). Weeds of natural ecosystems seem destined to remain more difficult eradication targets for a variety of reasons, including higher impedance to eradication, more difficulty in valuing the benefits arising from eradication, and possibly less willingness to pay from society at large.
Nomenclature: Witchweed, Striga asiatica (L.) Kuntze.