Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The wart that affects everybody

Whether you’re new to land management, a long time farmer or a public land manager, no one is immune to the threat of ragwort. Having persisted in high rainfall areas of Victoria since the late 1800’s, ragwort is unequivocally a tough plant to beat. One plant may produce up to 250,000 seeds each year which can then last in the soil for over 10 years. With this in mind, is it worth the fight to control ragwort? The answer is absolutely.

Aside from the productivity impacts of ragwort, (poisons stock, reduces milk, meat and wool production etc.) the social impacts born from a lack of control are equally as significant. Good neighbours do not share ragwort seeds with other landholders. When they do, the social impact is significant. The social impacts of invasive species like ragwort are difficult to quantify yet it is clear that they are considerable. The financial consequences of managing weeds causes stress for farm businesses.  Conflict between neighbours and between sections of the community with differing attitudes to weed control can also be emotionally taxing. 

Therefore by controlling ragwort you, (as a landholder) are not only meeting your legal requirements (CaLP Act 1994) but you will be keeping your neighbours and the local farming community happy.  To learn more about ragwort and discover what local programs are available to assist with its control, come along to a free Ragwort Forum on the 11th of March 2104 from 10am until 1pm at the Dakers Centre, Leongatha.

Share your experiences, view a range of displays and access weed control advice. Morning tea and lunch provided. For more information or to RSVP for catering purposes, contact Kate Williams at the South Gippsland Landcare Network on Tel: 5662 5759 Mob: 0428 317 928 or Email: katew@wgcma.vic.gov.au.

This forum is part of the ‘Waging War on Invasive Plants through Landcare Network Collaboration’ project funded by the State Government through the Victorian Landcare Grants administered by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Even blackberries feel the heat...


With significant rainfall and cooler temperatures in late spring/early summer, conditions were optimum for blackberry germination and growth.  From September to November young canes emerged from the crown or base of the blackberry bush and grew rapidly at a rate of between 5-8 cm per day.
By the end of November and into December plants were in full flower and in early January bushes were full of berries (fruit). As a general rule, in mid-late December the level of control using herbicides is effective as plants are yet to set fruit (seed), they are actively growing and are less likely to be heat stressed than in mid-summer. However its worth noting that if conditions are suitable, herbicide can be applied from flowering right through to fruiting – usually December, January, February and March.


In hot, dry periods currently being experienced across South East Australia hold off spraying plants with herbicide if they are showing signs of moisture stress i.e. wilting. Hot conditions during the day (i.e. over 30 °C) can temporarily stress plants and limit uptake or absorption of herbicides. During hot conditions, spray in the morning before 11am or wait until weather conditions are milder.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Angled Onions leaving a sour taste

Angled Onion (Allium triquetrum) has been increasing in recent years along local roadsides, stream banks and bush land areas.  Thriving in damp areas and tolerating windy conditions, Angled Onion, (if left unchecked) has the potential to become even more common in South Gippsland.

For those not familiar with the plant, Angled Onion is a bulbous perennial herb growing 30- 50cm tall. It has bright green, limp, fleshy, pointed leaves with a strong onion smell when crushed and small, white, bell-shaped flowers, clustered at end of long, triangular stems from August to November. Each petal has a middle green line. The fruit is a round green capsule, 4- 6mm diameter, with black, oblong seeds presenting from September to December. 

Without adequate control, Angled Onion is capable of smothering and displacing native grasses and groundcovers by preventing seed germinating and subsequent regeneration. In addition, given that Angled Onion is seasonal and dormant leaving bare ground in summer, it increases the likelihood of soil erosion.  In agricultural situations, Angled Onion imparts a strong onion flavor and an unpleasant odor to dairy products and meat, making them unfit for sale. The weeds seeds are dispersed by water and ants. Seeds and bulbs are also spread by contaminated soil and garden refuse.

In terms of control, plants can be dug out ensuring that all bulbs, corms and rhizomes are removed. Remove small and scattered plants first and then target outer edges of larger infestations. Dispose of removed material by either burning in a very hot fire or seal in strong bags and take to the tip.

For larger infestations, treat using herbicide at the bulb exhaustion stage late winter to early spring as treatments outside this period do not provide the same degree of control. Brush Off and Pulse penetrant is effective (off label use).

If unable to spray, at the very least remove flower heads prior to seed set, using either a lawn mower or brush cutter. It may take several years to exhaust the bulb food supply. Continue cutting new growth and maintaining dense mulch.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Here come the bride


Winter in South Gippsland; the air is chilly, the rain is frequent, and Bridal Creeper is growing at a rate of knots!
Please be vigilant in controlling new outbreaks; keep a lookout underneath trees where seeds have been spread by birds. All underground tubers need to be removed in order for manual removal to be fully effective. Tubers can grow at some depth under the soil therefore using a small mattock to get leverage is the best way to go. All removed material should be double bagged and disposed of appropriately. Removed tubers have been shown to survive even without light for 2 years, therefore correct disposal is important.
For larger infestations, foliar spray using Brush Off (off label* in Victoria) from June to August up until flowering and prior to fruiting. If using Brush Off, care must be taken to avoid killing surrounding native vegetation.

Although Bridal Creeper is relatively common in Victoria, there is still potential for further spread.  Active control will reduce the chance of spread; and protect vulnerable native plants and animals in the process.  Now excuse me, I'm off to kick some (Bridal Creeper) butt!

Off Label * In Victoria off label use (not exceeding the maximum rate on the label) is permitted except for restricted chemicals requiring an ACUP e.g Grazon. Off label permits can be applied for at the DEPI or Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Off label use can be quite complex and it is recommended that enquiries be made in the first instance with the DEPI. The DEPI website does have good info on chemical use rules go to;  http://new.dpi.vic.gov.au/agriculture/farming-management/chemical-use