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

Cotton bush

Collaboration leads to increased control of declared weed in the Peel Harvey region

There is a lot of industry and government managed land in the Peel Harvey Region. It is really encouraging to see some taking steps towards controlling the weeds that occur on their land.

Three good needs stories were highlighted by the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development at the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group’s Annual General Meeting.

There is a lot of industry-owned land in the Peel-Harvey Region and some industry bodies are taking steps to control the weeds that occur on their land.

Three good news stories were highlighted at the 2017 PHBG general meeting by DPIRD.

Mature cotton bush plants can produce over 300 seeds per pod that are easily spread.

Alcoa

After the Waroona fire ALCOA had a massive cleanup job ahead. Even so DPIRD has reported that 100% of areas highlighted through consultation with the community, PHBG, and DPIRD were sprayed by the company voluntarily.

Watercorp

Through collaboration, Watercorp and DPIRD have worked together to develop a brand new process for identifying cotton bush infestations.

Using this new process highlighted areas have been actioned with follow up control planned throughout 2018.

Water Corporation and DPIRD continue to consult and work together on cotton bush control around their infrastructure.

Water Corporation South West Regional Manager, John Janssen, said the Region’s maintenance schedule targeted areas prone to invasive weeds.

“We take our responsibility as a landowner very seriously when it comes to controlling invasive weeds such as cotton bush.

“We collaboratively work together with all of our neighbours to ensure we get maximum results in weed control and prevent any weeds from spreading.”

Weed spraying equipment being used by WaterCorp to spray cotton bush problem areas highlighted using new process in partnership with DPIRD.

ARC Infrastructure

Formerly Brookfield Rail, ARC Infrastructure manages the rail reserves from the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale through the Murray and Waroona Shires, into Harvey.

Through consultation with the community, PHBG, and DPIRD, ARC Infrastructure have incorporated reported cotton bush problem areas into their spraying program.

 

Arc Infrastructure Officers assessing and spraying weeds along the rail corridor.

Vaughn Byrd Chairperson of the PHBG has seen the result of this spraying with patches of dead plants along the railway reserve. He views it as an initial step to controlling the outbreaks of these weeds.

“The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group values their relationship with the community, industry and local government. Being able to work together to highlight problem areas and focus efforts on them is invaluable,” He said.

“It really is amazing what can happen when everyone works together. We still have a long way to go but with these efforts continuing into the future land managers can start to move onto additional problem areas.”

Have you got a story about declared pests?

Contact the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group and join the conversation, email comms.phbg@gmail.com

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group Banner

 

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.