Heads up from neighbour leads to cotton bush control.

All too often we hear the bad news about declared pests in our regions. Neighbouring properties, government land, and industry managed land gets the pointed finger, and for good reason.

Community pressure often leads to change.

However many people forget that a quick heads up and an offer of support can go a lot further.

In the Shire of Harvey, one neighbour approached another.

This neighbour had previously spent their own time and money trying to control a growing cotton bush infestation over the fence.

Cotton bush a weed that doesn’t respect property lines.

“It was very frustrating trying to control cotton bush that was re-infesting my property from an established problem over a fence. I was so relieved when my friendly heads up led to a massive effort by the new landowner to control and remove the cotton bush on his property,” the neighbour said.

The new landowner had unwittingly bought, along with his brand new patch of paradise, a long establish infestation of cotton bush.

The heads up was welcomed. The new landholder was unaware of the declared weed, cotton bush and its agricultural impacts, as well as the level of infestation on his own property.

“When I purchased my property I knew it had a cotton bush problem but I never really had any idea to how serious it was or could be,” said the landholder.

“Although I had the previous owner spray the cotton bush before purchasing, being late November the cotton bush had already seeded and though some were killed with the spraying, twice as much sprouted back up.

I received a call from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) around this time after my cotton bush infestation had been reported to them. The call really helped with the understanding of what is expected from property owners and the resources available to remove cotton bush.

I received enormous amounts of encouragement and information from them, notably the list and phone numbers of local spraying contractors and cotton bush removalists who you can pay to physically remove the weed.”

With help from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the new landowner set about creating a management plan that would see mature plants removed and emergent seedlings managed.

The new neighbour started by removing the mature cotton bush plants. Over 110 acres of matured plants were hand pulled and heaped together on central burn piles.

The cleared land was sprayed as new emergent seedlings popped up.

The new landowner has learnt a lot from the experience and has some timely advice as the cotton bush season draws closer.

The results from hand pulling was placed in a pile for burning in situ so as not to spread seeds.

“I know I will be pulling cotton bush for the next few years as it germinates, but it is far cheaper than spraying, and it really drives my passion to eradicate cottonbush from my farm” he said.

I feel a great sense of satisfaction to see how much work I have put in and the results are speaking for themselves.

If I were to hand on any advice that I have learned from my experience is to get onto it NOW. Cotton bush will get worse and require you to make more of an effort to remove if you leave it another weekend.

Talk to your neighbours, encourage them, help them get started, show them that it can be done because walking through a paddock pulling a few weeds can help you get to know them too.

Cotton bush is an unforgiving, plague-like weed that can easily defeat a person as fast as it spreads. Any  progress is progress and the best time to act is now because it’s only going to get worse if you leave it.”

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has control information for cotton bush on their website.

  • Mature plants with seed pods attached have the potential to spread seed and infest new areas when moved away from their original location and should be disposed of as close to the infestation as possible.
  • Larger infestations are best dealt with by a combination of spraying, slashing, burning and pasture management.
  • Burning heavy infestations of cotton bush is an effective, low cost option which damages seed on and near the soil surface. Make sure you check with your local fire and emergency coordinator or local government for burning advice and permits.
  • Slashing and burning must be followed up with herbicide treatment to control regrowth and seedlings.
  • Spraying with glyphosate mixed with metsulfuron-methyl is very effective in controlling larger cotton bush plants and is best applied by a high volume hand lead sprayer.
  • Plants should be sprayed until the leaves are wet, almost to the point that liquid is running off.
  • Herbicide control is best done when the plant is actively growing from September to May.

Cotton bush infestations can be reported by emailing or phoning the Pest and Diseases Information Service (PaDIS) or contacting the PHBG directly on comms.phbg@gmail.com

A picture of two hands holding some mulch

July edition of Backyard Buddies released

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development release a monthly guide to animal and plant pests, diseases and weeds. The July edition of Backyard Buddies focuses on preventing weeds by using mulch in your garden.

The header promting the Backyard Buddies Newsletter

Winter rains are building up moisture levels within the soil; aiding absorption of the nutrients and minerals needed to ensure a healthy plant. Weed seeds are also benefiting from this rain as it helps to provide the optimal conditions for weed germination.

The secret to successful and cost-effective weed control is to strike early, and nothing is earlier than prevention. So it’s important to implement weed management practices in your garden and understand the importance of using clean mulch from a reputable source.

Mulch is commonly used as a protective layer to maintain soil moisture by minimising evaporation. Mulch also prevents weeds by limiting the light required for weed establishment. However, contaminated mulch and the incorrect use of mulch can introduce new weeds into your garden or encourage existing weeds to germinate.

Ask questions of mulch suppliers or retailers to help avoid purchasing mulch contaminated with weed seeds.  Mulch that has not reached the optimal temperature required to kill most weed seeds, is not frequently turned or is left uncovered, poses a risk of weed contamination.

Composted mulch or mulch containing large quantities of plant debris and soil are not effective at weed suppression.  These act more like a soil they can compact and retain water; providing the perfect conditions for weeds to germinate and prosper.

If looking to suppress weeds, choose coarser mulch.  This is commonly made from chunks of wood or bark, and applied up to 4 inches deep.

A picture of two hands holding some mulch

You can also help protect your garden and our State by reporting suspicious or unusual weeds that pop up after fertilising or applying mulch to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional

Development (Previously the Department of Agriculture and Food WA) using our free mobile app MyWeedWatcher, or report via the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service by calling 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

A picture of a hand holding a phone showing the MyWeedWatcher App

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Global invader controlled by kero concoction

Robinia pseudoacacia L. (black locust) is recognized as a global invader due to its ability to colonise areas quickly, produce lots of seeds, and produce suckers when disturbed. It’s ability to fix nitrogen in the soil allows Robinia to spread into low quality soils, once used to reclaim disturbed sites, the plant is now recognized as a weed on most continents. Many gardeners plant Robinia species because of their golden appearance and large colourful flowers, however these species are grafted onto black locust root stock which produce thorny suckers when the roots are disturbed. These suckers can even pop up into neighboring yards 15m away causing disputes, some of which has led to civil action.

A picture of a robinia tree with white flowers

 

Don Burke, of Burke’s Backyard, lists the global invader Robinia as one of the trees gardeners will regret they planted!

Control Options-

Robinia suckers can pop up vigorously after soil disturbance with sharp thorns that can make removal even harder.
The Ask Sabrina section of The Weekend West advised that a concoction of 200ml of blackberry and tree killer mixed with one teaspoon of kerosene painted on to the cut sucker immediately, is very effective. Hard-to-kill plants such as oleander and tree of heaven are also susceptible.

Website Herbiguide give this control advice “Cut down the tree and paint the stump with neat glyphosate to reduce regrowth and suckering. Spray regrowth and suckers when they are about 500 mm tall with glyphosate. It re grows vigorously from cut roots and stumps and these sprouts need to be removed continually to exhaust the root system. Access, Grazon and metsulfuron are worth a trial.”

The Meat and Livestock Association of Australia rates Robinia as moderately  palatable for goats in their handbook titled Weed control using goats- a guide to using goats for weed control in pastures. Giving a chemical free option for weed control.

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Heath Benefits?

According to some the black locust has some health benefits and parts of the tree can be used for different therapeutic uses. Infusions  can help burning in the stomach, and with fatigue and nervousness. The flowers can apparently help with wounds and burns- this could be helpful after attempting the removal of thorny suckers.

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

European House Borer

Blocking Borer

Home remedies can be effective, safe and a cheap way to control pests around the home. Passed down from generation to generation these recipes can be pure gold! This week we have looked at a home remedy for Borer.

This home remedy is from the Ask Sabrina section in the West Weekend.

Borer home remedy-

Myrtle writes- I have a home remedy for treating borer that has worked on a lemon-scented gum tree and a local wattle, based on a treatment I’d read for an insect infestation on a grapefruit tree. I used 40 per cent vegetable oil, 20 percent detergent and the rest water, shaken vigorously in a handheld spray bottle. I squirted the mixture into the borer holes and almost immediately borers staggering out and died, presumably suffocated by the oil. Two years later, the lemon scented gum has no sign of the borers and the little holes have filled in. The wattle still had a few residual, but no sign of infestation.

An articel from teh Ask Sabrina section of the Weekend West paper.

 

Borer successfully attack stressed trees-

Stressed trees are weaker and have less defenses against insect such as borers. Healthy trees will often exude resin or kino to try and fight off the attackers. Telltale signs that a tree has borers include fresh exit holes in the timber, tunnels in the wood, bone dust, crumbling wood, dead beetles, adult beetles, eggs, and wood borer larvae. Borer can even disguise their holes using webbing and frass (secreted excreta of insects). Therefore a great way to treat early signs of borers is to improve the health of your tree. Have a look at the environment in which the tree resides, does it need more water or a tonic?

Common bores include; Pinhole Bores, House Longhorn Beetle, Powder Post Beetle, Common Furniture Beetle and Auger Beetles.

Borer pest to look out for-

The European House Borer (EHB) (Hylotrupes bajulus Linnaeus), is a destructive pest of untreated seasoned coniferous timber, such as pine, fir and spruce (Pinus, Abies, Picea, Araucaria and Pseudotsuga species). EHB can  cause major structural damage to buildings.

In Western Australia EHB has been found in susceptible dead trees, logs and living trees with dead wood (dried out damaged branches or trunks). Roof timbers, wall frames, flooring, architraves, door frames and timber articles such as pine furniture, shipping crates, pallets and transport supporting timber and frames can also be susceptible.

EHB has been detected several times previously in Australia but these infestations were eradicated by fumigation. In 2004 EHB was detected in Western Australia, and since then has been found in 60 Perth suburbs.

 

European House Borer

European House Borer Adult Beetle

European House Borer

Signs of European House Borer activity

 

Think you have an insect pest?

You can report pests online here using the MyPestGuide tool. Reports are quick and easy to do and you can include the exact location of the pest and photos as well. The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, aim to respond to reports in 48hrs.

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

Exotic ornamental killer – Weed of the Month

Horsetails (Equisetum sp) is an ornamental plant that is sold in nurseries around the state. On the alert list for non-native weeds that are a risk to the environment and biodiversity, this plant is also highly toxic to livestock and is this Months MyWeedWatcher App- Weed of the Month.

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

MyWeedWatcher update: March 2017 | Department of Agriculture and Food

Ancient survivors

Horsetails (Equisetum species) is sold as an ornamental, and they are also of interest to people who take the risk of making their own herbal remedies. Sometimes they are used in permaculture or as pond plants.

The erect, jointed stems are of two kinds, vegetative and fertile. Vegetative stems are green and ribbed. They can be a single stem or have whorls of slender leaf-like branches. Fertile stems can be green, white or pale brown, topped by fruiting cones. On both stems the true leaves are reduced to a papery ring around each joint. Once established, the main means of spread is by rhizomes rather than spores.

In a backyard, the worst horsetails can do is smother the area, but if they escape into farmland the consequences are dire. They are toxic to livestock, and in high densities they can reduce crop yield because they produce substances that inhibit the growth of other plants.

In the past, infestations of a horsetail called scouring rush (E. hyemale) have been found in the Perth metropolitan area at nurseries in Bedfordale and the Wanneroo area, and a home garden in Morley. Like all horsetails, this one has a high silica content, and the common name arose from the old practice of using the stems to scrub pots and pans. Several other species, including common horsetail (E. arvense) have been found in the eastern states.

Please report any horsetails seen in the wild, in gardens or at weekend markets. If you have horsetail plants, do not attempt to dispose of them yourself. Please call us for advice as horsetail plants generate readily from fragments. Always take care when ordering plants or seeds via the internet, and never dump any garden rubbish in the bush

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

 Natural Heritage Trust’s Key points on Horsetails

• Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective forms of weed control. Horsetails are so invasive and difficult to control that it is very important to prevent them becoming established.

• Horsetails can be spread over long distances by movement of soil containing rhizomes.

• If not controlled, horsetails could become persistent weeds of cultivated land, pastures and roadsides in temperate regions, especially on damp ground.

• If you see a plant that may be a horsetail species, contact your local council or state or territory weed management agency. Do not attempt control on your own. 

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

 

A pile of pulled out cotton bush

Post fire weed control successful with industry grants help.

Agricultural landholders and land managers in the local government areas of Waroona, Harvey, Murray, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Mandurah were invited to apply for grants to support their efforts to control weeds in early 2017.

An applicant from the Cookernup area said that  “spraying went really well and successfully knocked off the larger cotton bush plants. Now that the summer grass has died off it is easy to see the young emergent cotton bush and we are keeping on top of these by walking the area once a week.” The program had great feedback being easy and straight forward in the application process and the rolling out of the grant funding. The property owner reported that the “..fire although devastating did remove the larger Apple of Sodom plants that had been difficult to remove and its a high priority not to let the weed get established again. Of course weed control is always ongoing especially with the recent rainfall”.

Another applicant from the Yarloop area also had a good experience with the grant program. The applicant stated that ” the contractors provided through the program were fantastic, very knowledgeable and experienced. The contractors were able to effectively control cotton bush in a very steep and rocky area of our property. They were so good we even had them back to spray weeds in the wet areas on our property”. These contractors Western Conservation PTY Ltd can be found on Facebook and have a range of environmental management services they offer.

a pile of pulled out cotton bush

 

Grants from $100 to $1500 were available for the purchase of herbicide, spray packs or the hiring of an appropriate weed control contractor for successful applicants. The grants were available for landholdings used primarily for agriculture or horticulture. Below are two applicants of the program sharing their experiences. The grant was a coordinated program combining the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group, Peel Harvey Catchment Council and Greening Australia. Funding was supplied through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

 

 The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group wish all applicants luck with their weed control support provided through the grants and look forward to hearing more success stories in the future. 

 

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, logo.

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, appointment of Senior Compliance Inspector, Christine Comer.

 Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, logo.

New compliance officer-

Christine joins Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), on an 18 month contract, funded by Royalties for Regions, to work specifically on compliance of C3 weeds.  Covering a region from the Shire of  Serpentine -Jarrahdale to Bridgetown / Manjimup and over to the coast, she will work with both DAFWA,  Biosecurity Officers’ and Biosecurity Groups in this region.

Christine comes from an environmental science background, having spent 3 years in local government at the Cities of Mandurah and Rockingham. She was a local government representative on the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group and undertook landscape scale cotton bush and C3 pest and weed control as a Project Officer at the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council.

 

Biosecurity and compliance-

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia,  has prepared a compliance strategy and will undertake compliance processes in a way that supports a community coordinated approach for control and management of widespread and established declared pests. The compliance process includes remedial action and prosecution where appropriate. A summary of the compliance process timeline can be see below.

An image describing the compliance process by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, when controlling declared weeds.

For more compliance information follow this link to the DAFWA website.

Compliance strategy timeline

  • August: community groups send letters to landholders
  • September: negotiate target areas for compliance with groups
  • Early October: inspections
  • Late October: non-compliance warning letters issued
  • November: Pest Control Notices issued
  • Early December: contractors engaged when required.

 

Reporting cotton bush

Don’t forget you can help manage cotton bush in your area by reporting infestations using the DAFWA MyWeedWatcher App.

MyWeedWatcher enables users to identify weeds, conduct surveys on weeds of interest and report on the presence of declared weeds. The identification guide allows users to quickly search for a weed according to plant characteristics such as flower colour, leaf shape, and plant type. The survey/reporting feature enables users to map weeds, add images and record survey data such as weed density, weed counts, confidence of identification, and notes on control activities done.

A picture of a hand holding a phone showing the MyWeedWatcher App

Participants at the cotton bush field day

Local farmer spreads weed message at field day

The cotton bush and Apple of Sodom field day on the 5th of October was the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group’s most popular event to date. With over 60 people attending, the focus was the management and control of some locally common declared weeds- cotton bush and Apple of Sodom. The  event personified the interest and need of the community for help in controlling declared weeds, real experiences both positive and negative were shared providing integral information for local property owners.
Property owner Mike reminds us all that the “Best way to manage weeds is to take ownership of your own weed problems and that’s what we are doing.”

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group looks forward to holding more informative events like this one in 2017. Become a member today so you don’t miss out on upcoming events and biosecurity information.

The below Article written about the event appeared in the

Harvey Reporter in the October 11th 2016 Edition.

Wokalup couple Anne and Wayne Slammers speak with Department of Agriculture and Food development officer Andrew Reeves.

LANDOWNERS came from as far as Serpentine and Bridgetown to a field day on the treatment of declared weeds cotton bush and Apple of Sodom in Brunswick on Wednesday.

Landowner Mike Donaghy and his wife Kylie West had tried a variety of methods to combat the infestation they found when they bought the property seven months ago.

With support from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group and the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA, Mr Donaghy offered to share his experiences with other stakeholders and get the message across that the problem can only be solved with a community approach.

“I got rid of cotton bush and Apple of Sodom in one paddock and now find wild radish and wild mustard taking root,” he said.

“The best way to solve the problem of declared weeds spreading is to take ownership of the weeds on our own land.

“As farmers we share the responsibility and we don’t want to spread highly invasive cotton bush to our neighbours.”

Biosecurity group chairman Vaughn Byrd said the turnout of almost 80 people was amazing.

“It was an interactive way where Mike shared his experiences and this prompted others to share theirs,” he said.

“I talked to a number of people and they were very happy with the day.

“In some instances it clarified for them that they were on the right track controlling weeds.

“The field day was very timely – cotton bush is no longer seasonal and landholders have to be proactive all year round.

“If you leave the weeds until they flower, you have left it too late.”

 

Participants at the cotton bush field day

Wokalup Couple Ann and Wayne Slammers speak with Department of Agriculture and Food WA Officer Andrew Reeves.

Barley Grass weed

The 4 major weeds you don’t want in your hay.

Hay season has finished and lovely yellow rectangles and rolls dot the hills and flats of the Peel Harvey region, but don’t be taken in – hay can hide a multitude of weeds you could be introducing onto your property.  Movement between properties of hay, animals and machinery are some of the most common ways weeds are transported through the environment.  All property owners should have specific property biosecurity plan in place to restrict the movement of weeds and pests.

One persons weed can be another persons treasure, but there are weeds that can be toxic to livestock and owners should be aware of what these look like. There are a few things to restrict the likely hood of introducing weeds onto your property through your hay. They include educating yourself on what weeds can look like when baled up in hay, checking out the verges and adjoining proprieties for weeds of your hay supplier, and asking questions about the baling process and the quality of the hay.

Four major weeds you could find in your hay-

 

Patersons Curse  (Echium plantagineum) 

patersons curse weed

Declared- Yes

Toxic- Yes

Recommended herbicides
In cereals

Chlorsulfuron; Metsulfuron methyl; Triasulfuron; Tigrex; Broadstrike; Jaguar; Bromoxynil + MCPA

In pasture, up to four leaf stage

Jaguar®; Tigrex®; Broadstrike®; Bromoxynil + MCPA

At early flowering, seed set control

Chlorsulfuron; Metsulfuron methyl; Triasulfuron; Glyphosate + 2,4-D LV ester

 

Narrow leaf cotton bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus) –

Cotton bush

Declared- Yes

Toxic- Yes

Recommended herbicides Glyphosate

Triclopyr            

 

One-leaf cape tulip (Moraea flaccida, previously Homeria flaccida) –

Cape tulip

Declared- No

Toxic- Yes

Recommended herbicides
(One-leaf) August-September, (two-leaf) July-end August:

2,4-D LV ester (cereals and pasture)

2,4-D amine (cereals and pasture)

2,4-DB (cereals and pasture)

Paraquat (blanket wiper)

Full emergence to early August:

2,2-DPA

Wheat pre-sowing or post-emergence. Barley and oats post-emergence only:

Chlorsulfuron

Wheat: 10 days pre-sowing. Barley post-emergence:

Metsulfuron

At point of corm exhaustion (pasture):

Spinnaker® (for two-leaf only)

Barley Grass (Hordeum glaucum and H. leporinum) –

Barley Grass weed

Declared- No

Toxic- No (seed head causes physical injuries to eyes and mouth of livestock)

Recommended herbicides

Post-emergent herbicide control is limited due to a limited range of herbicides available for the control of barley grass in wheat and other cereals.

 

Integrated weed management

Tactic name

Most likely % control (range) Comments on use
Crop choice and sequence 85 (0–95) Avoid planting barley in infested areas
Herbicide-tolerant crops 80 (40–95) Triazines and imidazolinone herbicides provide useful control in tolerant crops
Burning residues 50 (0–75) Dropping chaff and straw into windrows improves control
Inversion ploughing 90 (70–99) Use skimmers to ensure deep burial
Delayed sowing 60 (50–90) Level of control depends on autumn break. Use in combination with Tactic 2.2a

 

These herbicide and control recommendations are from the Department of Food and Agriculture’s website. Follow the link for more information or to look up control notes for different weeds. When using herbicides remember to use the correct safety equipment and always read the Material Safety Data Sheet for the chemical you are using (available by law through any stockist).