1. Weed eradication efforts often must be sustained for long periods owing to the existence of persistent seed banks, among other factors. Decision makers need to consider both the amount of investment required and the period over which investment must be maintained when determining whether to commit to (or continue) an eradication programme. However, a basis for estimating eradication programme duration based on simple data has been lacking. Here, we present a stochastic dynamic model that can provide such estimates.
2. The model is based upon the rates of progression of infestations from the active to the monitoring state (i.e. no plants detected for at least 12 months), rates of reversion of infestations from monitoring to the active state and the frequency distribution of time since last detection for all infestations. Isoquants that illustrate the combinations of progression and reversion parameters corresponding to eradication within different time frames are generated.
3. The model is applied to ongoing eradication programmes targeting branched broomrape Orobanche ramosa and chromolaena Chromolaena odorata. The minimum periods in which eradication could potentially be achieved were 22 and 23 years, respectively. On the basis of programme performance until 2008, however, eradication is predicted to take considerably longer for both species (on average, 62 and 248 years, respectively). Performance of the branched broomrape programme could be best improved through reducing rates of reversion to the active state; for chromolaena, boosting rates of progression to the monitoring state is more important.
4.Synthesis and applications. Our model for estimating weed eradication programme duration, which captures critical transitions between a limited number of states, is readily applicable to any weed. A particular strength of the method lies in its minimal data requirements. These comprise estimates of maximum seed persistence and infested area, plus consistent annual records of the detection (or otherwise) of the weed in each infestation. This work provides a framework for identifying where improvements in management are needed and a basis for testing the effectiveness of alternative tactics. If adopted, our approach should help improve decision making with regard to eradication as a management strategy.