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 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

Support for Weed Control Grant Funding Flyer

Need help to control weeds on your property?

Grants are now available to support the efforts of agricultural landholders and land managers in controlling weeds in the Peel-Harvey Region.

 

Support for weed control-

Expression of Interest

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

Grants of $100 to $1500 are available for the purchase of herbicide, spray packs or the hiring of an appropriate weed control contractor.

Please email exec.officer.phbg@gmail.com to receive an application kit.

 

Support for Weed Control Grant Funding Flyer

Green Army join fight against cotton bush

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.

 

cotton bush seeds

Cotton bush seeds are small and light making them easily spread on the wind.

 

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.

 

 

Green Army pull out cotton bush weed in Whitby.

Green Army participants pull cotton bush in Whitby.

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 info@peelharveybiosecurity.info.

For more information on the Green Army programme click here.

 

Cotton bush

Steep Learning Curve for New Property Owner

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group logo

 

 

 

 

In a short space of time Mike Donaghy and his wife, Kylie West have made incredible inroads controlling infestations of cotton bush and Apple of Sodom on their Brunswick property.

To demonstrate effective (and not so effective) methods of treating these declared weeds, Mr Donaghy will be hosting a field day on Wednesday, October 5, between 10am and 1pm.
 
“When we took on the property six months ago I was keen to get rid of cotton bush and Apple of Sodom to improve the productivity of the land. The infestations were so bad that grazing was severely inhibited.

With different advice on offer I decided to trial a range of chemical options, and also non-chemical methods.

The idea of a field day came to mind because I really want to fast-track other people’s control efforts by giving them the opportunity to see what has worked, and not worked for me”, Mr Donaghy said.
 
The field day will be supported by Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) and Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and is open to any person who has an interest in controlling declared weeds in the region.
 
Chairman of Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group, Vaughan Byrd extended his thanks all those landowners who have been treating their cotton bush and Apple of Sodom.

These two weeds spread so rapidly and we need a community effort to control them. We are grateful to Mike for holding this field day and I encourage landowners to come and learn about the most effective methods of treatment.

The field day will also show how a few untreated cotton bush plants can turn into a 40 hectare infestation within several years,” Mr Byrd said.

Register your interest to attend the field day with the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group, by email info@peelharveybiosecurity.info. You will receive an information pack with directions to the property and an outline of the program, which will include an opportunity to chat over freshly made sandwiches. Children are welcome at this event.

Bush Rangers quiz PHBG on weeds

On the 31st May 2016 Jonelle Cleland , Executive Officer of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group, held a two hour weeds workshop at Waroona District High School with the Bushranger Cadets.

Bush Rangers WA is a youth-based conservation and community development program run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife. It supports young Western Australians to take an active role in the conservation of the natural environment and better understand the mechanisms for its management.

Below are some of the questions asked by the Bush Rangers about weeds-

What are weeds and how did they get here?

The Australia Government defines a weed as:

A weed is any plant that requires some form of action to reduce its effect on the economy, the environment, human health and amenity. Weeds are also known as invasive plants. Many plants introduced into Australia in the last 200 years are now weeds.

A weed can be an exotic species or a native species that colonises and persists in an ecosystem in which it did not previously exist. Weeds can inhabit all environments; from our towns and cities through to our oceans, deserts and alpine areas.Some weeds are of particular concern and, as a result, have been listed for priority management or in legislation.

How do you get rid of weeds?

Unfortunately there isn’t one recipe for weed control, how much easier would that make weed management! Luckily however there are lots of resources available that provides specific information on a weed you may be having trouble with. These include the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, Herbiguide, and of course your regional Biosecurity Group can answer your queries on weed control.

How do they spread?

Weeds typically produce large numbers of seeds, assisting their spread. They are often excellent at surviving and reproducing in disturbed environments and are commonly the first species to colonise and dominate in these conditions. There are lots of different ways plants use to help their seeds spread. Some plants use animals to move their seeds this is called animal dispersal. Seeds dispersed by animals are usually barbed or sticky and stick to an animal as it brushes past, or they are yummy so an animal eats them or stores them in their burrows. Other weeds use wind dispersal to spread, their seeds usually have wings or other hair or feather-like structures, and they produce lots of them. There are also plants that use water to move their seeds, these are mostly aquatic plants or plants that live near water.

Water Hyacinth, a declared weed, clogging up a waterway

Water hyacinth is one of the worlds worst aquatic seeds and can double its mass in five days. It spreads on water using floating seeds and growth from new stems called stolons.

Blackberry, a declared weed, growing on a hillside

The blackberry is a declared pest in WA and is spread through fruit eating mammals and birds. Each single berry can contain 20-30 seeds.

Cotton bush seeds are small and feathery

Cotton bush is a declared pest and spreads on the wind using its small feathery seeds.

 

How do they get their names?

A plants scientific name is made made up of its genus and specific name for example blackberry Rubus fruticosus– Rubus (genus) fruticosus (specific). A plants common name generally arises from the local name for that plant and can be descriptive. Some examples of common names include the blackberry, cotton bush, nut grass and onion weed.

Can they kill humans?

The short answer is yes some weeds are toxic to humans. Weeds, like many plants, can be poisonous when consumed or create allergic reactions when brushed up against. Some weeds are especially dangerous because they have brightly coloured berries that are attractive to young children. Many more weeds are toxic to livestock as they are more likely to consume them in the paddock or in hay if it is baled up in an infested area.

A short list of weeds that can be toxic include- apple of sodom, blackberry nightshade, cotton bush, deadly nightshade, thornapple, lantana, cape tulip, and arum lily.

The best way to find out if a plant on your property is a weed and/or toxic is to use the MyWeedWatcher App to I.D your weed and find out the weeds specifications and correct management options available.

There isn’t a way to tell from looking at a plant if its poisonous or not. Be on the safe side and wear long sleeves and pants if playing in weedy areas and don’t put them in your mouth!

How do you identify them?

There are lots of resources available in identifying weeds including the internet, books and now Apps!

Bush Rangers Quiz PHBG on weeds

DAFWA’s new MyWeedWatcher App can help you identify weeds.

How do you stop weeds from coming back?

There are some weeds that have seeds that can be viable for longer than 10 years, which means that one weed control application often wont be enough. Some weeds are best controlled using chemical methods, some can be controlled by mowing or slashing, some need to be physically removed or even burnt. The best ways to ensure success is to correctly identify your weed so you can control it in the most effective way, for example to effectively spray nut grass you must spray it before it forms its 6th leaf to ensure the chemical is taken into its underground node, that’s very specific!

Before commencing weed control its important to have a plan so you don’t waste time and money. The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group has a Weed Management Plan booklet that can help you plan out your weed control efforts in advance, find it here to download.

Bush Rangers quiz PHBG on weeds

 

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group was excited to host the workshop for the  at Waroona DHS Bush Rangers program and hope to work with them again in the future on protecting their local area from declared pests and weeds. If you would like more information on Bush Rangers WA then follow this link.

Cotton bush

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group helps landowners remove and dispose of cotton bush.

On Wednesday 20th April officers from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG), Jonelle Cleland and Teele Hooper-Worrell, helped a local landowner pull out some cotton bush plants. It is important that landowners know the correct way to remove and dispose of cotton bush.  Jonelle Cleland, Executive Officer from the PHBG noted that ‘After removing the green seed pods and placing them straight in a bin bag we were able to pull out the mature plants easily from the soil’. Cotton bush is a declared weed and you are not allowed to simply throw the waste in the bin or put it out on your verge for green waste pickup. You must dispose of the seeds effectively, otherwise they are still viable and can spread to another area.

A great way to prevent the spread of the weed is to use solarisation to kill off the active seeds, with the added benefit of composting some lovely soil for your paddocks or garden beds. Solarisation uses the heat of the sun’s rays to literally cook plants, weed seeds, nematodes, insects, and soil pathogens (the “bad guy” fungi, and bacteria that bring diseases to plants) which occur in the top layer of your soil. It also makes nutrients more available to plants later grown in solarised soil.

Below are some steps for successfully solarising cotton bush plants and seeds you have pulled up on your property.

How to remove and dispose of cotton bush.

How to remove cotton bush

Woman removing cotton bush

Jonelle Cleland Executive Officer for the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group removes cotton bush.

Step 1- If the weed has active pods growing carefully remove and place straight into a bin bag to reduce the spread of the wind borne seeds.

Step 2- pull up the mature plants and stack in an out the way area, on top of an existing compost pile is suitable.

Cotton bush after being removed.

Correctly dispose of cotton bush seeds by placing the seeds in a plastic bag.

How to dispose of cotton bush

 

Step 3 – Place plastic bags of seeds in the sun and leave for a few weeks. After the seeds have been cooked the bags can be placed into the bin.

Step 4- Source some thick clear plastic and spread over your mature plants/ and or seeds and weigh down with rocks or bricks. As an alternative you can use black pond liner but it won’t be as quick. Be careful of snakes that may find refuge underneath the plastic.

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Officers with Serpentine-Jarrahdale landowner with pile of cotton bush.

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Officers with Serpentine-Jarrahdale landowner after being show how to correctly remove and dispose of cotton bush.

Solarisation will occur more quickly in summer, in summer you can use the soil after 5 weeks while in winter you may want to leave the plastic on until the weather starts to warm up.

Children at the Peel harvey Biosecurity Stall at the 2016 Food and Farm Fest

Awareness of cotton bush grows through Food and Farm Festival

The Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group is working hard to raise awareness of the highly invasive weed known as cotton bush. Members and volunteers manned an interactive stall at the 2016 Food and Farm Fest held on the weekend.

 

The big drawcard of the stall was a kid’s craft activity. Children were engaged in replicating the cotton bush seed pod using play doh, matchsticks and other fun accessories.

child at Peel Harvey Biosecurity Stall at Food and Farm Fest
Jonelle Cleland of the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group stated that the intention of the kid’s activity was two-fold.
“Parents are much more inclined to stop and engage in a display if their kids are kept busy. It provides us with the opportunity to initiate conversation and answer people’s questions about cotton bush,” Mrs Cleland said.

 

“The other important aspect is education. We want people to easily recognise cotton bush – the seed pod is the most distinguishable part of the plant.”
Just one mature plant left to set seed has the capacity to produce hundreds more plants the following year.

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group at Food and Farm Fest 2016

 

The best time to control cotton bush is before seed pods appear. Each seed pod contains many seeds with silky tufts that allow them to spread in the wind.

 

Thanks are extended to the Serpentine Jarrahdale Library for the use of their kids table and chairs. Volunteers on the day included Athol Wigg, Tom Lerner, John and Genny Black, Georgina Hinds, Teele Hooper-Worrell and Jonelle Cleland.

 

Photos supplied by Georgina Hinds Photography