A Green Army team has joined up with the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group to pull up mature cotton bush plants on a site in the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale.
On a site visit to the Murdoch University run Whitby Farm, Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Officers noticed a large infestation of cotton bush adjoining the farm boundary along an unmanaged gazetted road. After learning how the Whitby Farm had successfully eradicated large areas of cotton bush from their property, PHBG officers decided they would look at options to extend this control past the farm’s boundaries. A Green Army team was active in the area and in conjunction with Landcare SJ and the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council it was organised that the team would spend two days pulling up cotton bush.
The Green Army is a hands-on, practical environmental action programme that supports local environment and heritage conservation projects across Australia.
Cotton bush management
Cotton bush is easily spread by the wind with every cotton bush seed pod containing around 100 seeds. When the pod dries up and drops from the plant, the seeds are carried in the wind and where ever they fall, germinate into new plants. The solution to the cotton bush problem is to break the seed cycle by spraying herbicide or manually removing the cotton bush before it sets seed. When a cotton bush has seed pods formed, the pods can be carefully collected in a plastic bag before removal, or the entire plant can be covered by a bin bag before pulling out.
Mature plants can be difficult to remove, as has been the case at this Whitby site. Mature plants can be cut off at the base and herbicide applied to the cut stem to kill the root and prevent regrowth. Another control method option in winter is to cut the mature plant at its base leaving no more than two centimeters of stem and then stomping on the base of the plant until the stem is cracked and damaged- this leaves the plant open to root rot.
To decrease the spread of seed, cotton bush plants can be piled on site and burnt at a later date if applicable or can even be deep buried.
Once an area has been cleared property owners must be vigilant of regrowth. Young cotton bush plants are easy to manage with herbicide and hand pulling, restricting the regrowth so cotton bush doesn’t mature and set seed is the most effective way of ensuring control into the future.
For more information on the different control methods and products available check out the DAFWA website. There is information available on cotton bush as well as other declared pests.
Cotton bush and the community
Controlling declared pests such as cotton bush is the responsibility of landholders and the local community. Declared pests costs society in lots of different ways, but if we can work together many hands make light work and the Peel-Harvey region can become a cotton bush free area. The PHBG’s mission is to educate the community on effective management techniques, helping provide the tools for the removal and control of declared pests. If you would like to become involved in the group or have some ideas on how to get your community involved in pest control, contact us through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Green Army programme click here.