MEDIA RELEASE- Look twice for cotton bush signs

MEDIA RELEASE

Look twice for cotton bush signs

 Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group hopes their thought provoking signs placed in cottonbush infested areas will raise awareness about the weed and promote its control.

Cotton bush competes with pasture and native bushland, is toxic to humans and livestock and is spread easily on the wind.

If cotton bush is harvested along with hay it can potentially poison any livestock that consume it.

Fire affected areas are also vulnerable to weeds through large cleared areas and no competition from other vegetation.

Young seedlings can be controlled manually by pulling them up or by chemical control.

It is important to remove the weed before it has time to grow seed pods and release new seeds into the soil.

New signs reminding people to control their cotton bush will be placed in different areas in the Peel-Harvey region to remind community members that pest control has to be a group effort.

All property owners are responsible for controlling declared pests on their land.

 Executive Office Jonelle Cleland says  “Contact the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group for information on how you can control cotton bush on your property, or go online at peelharveybiosecurity.info for information.” 

Peel Harvey Cotton Bush Sign put on the side of the Highway in Harvey

The Peel Harvey Cotton Bush Groups banner in Harvey.

 

ENDS….

Media Contact-

Teele Hooper-Worrell

Communications Officer

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group

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

Pests and rides feature at Harvey Show

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group attended the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show. Our enthusiastic committee members, made up of local property owners and representatives from the Shire of Murray and Harvey, tended the stall .

 

Three members of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group at the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show.

Members from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (from left) Marion Lofthouse, Colleen Archibald and Tom Lerner attend the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show.

 

Committee member Marion Lofthouse reported that the day was very successful with new cotton bush infestations reported, “we were able to hand out lots of bumper stickers to interested community members as well as hand out control notes on cotton bush and other weeds”. Marion was also surprised to discover that although many community members were aware of the group through the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group banners, strategically placed around the Peel-Harvey region, community members were still unaware of what cotton bush actually looked like. Marion says ” when they came to the stall to ask us what cotton bush actually looked like I could show them some cuttings and our potted samples to show them”.

 

Cotton bush

Narrow leaf cotton bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus) is a declared pest in Western Australia (WA).

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is looking forward to attending other community shows in 2017 and the events the group are attending can be found in the events section of our website. If you would like more information on the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group explore the website or visit the Facebook page.

Declared weed infestations can be reported by contacting your local biosecurity group or via 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.

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. 

 

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.

The difference between branched (many stemmed ) and common (one main stem) broomrape weed.

Keep your eye out for branched broomrape, in WA.

Due to this year’s interesting weather patterns many people have reported a spike in the amount of broomrape in paddocks and nature reserves. What you may not know is that there are different types of this weed with vastly different consequences for agricultural productivity and export markets.

Branched broomrape is currently targeted under DAFWA’s weed surveillance project due to its potential to adversely impact the agricultural industry. The branched version could easily be confused with common broomrape but to date, it has only been found in South Australia in the Murray Bridge area.

Common broomrape-

Common Broomrape is a brown sticky cylindrical plant that parasitises crops and broad-leaf weeds.

Common broomrape (Orobanche minor) a plant lacking in chlorophyll that relies on other plants for nutrients.

Common broomrape is a parasitic plant which has no chlorophyll and relies on its host for nutrients. The lack of chlorophyll is why the plant is brown. It has a translucent pinky brown stem which is sticky to touch. It is common among capeweed and other broad leaf weeds on roadsides and in agricultural areas. If you have the common variety, dig out the plant making sure you get the bulb-like base of the plant before it can set seed. Bag the plants and dispose in the rubbish bin. Quick disposal after pulling is advised as those left heaped on the ground can still go to seed.

Branched broomrape-

The difference between branched (many stemmed) broomrape and common (one main stem) broomrape.

The difference between branched and common broomrape.

The stem of branched broomrape is erect, thin and richly branched. These branches terminate in flowering spikes. Brown or straw-coloured, it grows 10-30cm high.

Impacts of branched broomrape-

Branched broomrape can be parasitic to a wide range of crops and pastures from several plant families, including canola, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, pulse crops, pasture legumes, cucurbits, hemp, lettuce, sunflower, linseed, beans, capsicums, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Annoyingly this weed will be parasitic to a range of weeds, enabling it to reproduce even when crops are not present.

The weed’s presence could result in partial or total crop losses and the possible loss of potential to produce some crops in heavily affected areas. Branched broomrape can also cause the loss of export markets interstate and overseas, and increases in management and control costs.

Prevention of branched broomrape-

Branched broomrape a many stemmed parasitic brown weed.

Branched broomrape causes huge impacts in agricultural areas.

  • Practice good biosecurity and avoid bringing any contaminated seed, machinery or livestock onto your property.
  • Be vigilant and learn to identify the weeds on and around your property. Report unfamiliar weeds using the MyWeedWatcher on-line reporting tool or the app (see agric.wa.gov.au/myweedwatcher) or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881 or info@agric.wa.gov.au.

For more information about branched broomrape identification, search our website: agric.wa.gov.au.  If you think you have branched broomrape or find any other parasitic plant attacking crop or pasture species, please do not attempt to control it, report it as soon as possible.

 

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.