Weeds - It's Everybody's Business

on 23 Jul 2013 

The thing that hit me when I attended the welcome reception at the 12th Queensland Weed Symposium at Hervey Bay last Monday night was that of the 160 registered attendees, I knew precisely zero! On reflection, this didn’t surprise me – it was Queensland after all and most delegates were “guvvies” (local, state and various NRM regions) or self-proclaimed “weedos” – and so worked in a parallel universe to me. However, it was comforting to realise that there was a whole other industry sector working on an allied issue that I was virtually unaware of. This presented a great opportunity for me to learn, network and spread the word about Bush Heritage.

So, what did I learn?

• The extent and severity of weed infestation determines the appropriate control strategy along the continuum from prevention, eradication, containment and impact reduction.

• There are 1000 ‘naturalised’ plant species in Queensland and 10-15 new species are introduced a year, the majority through the garden trade.

• There are many more approved biological control agents in use than I was aware of and they are relatively easy to access and apply but that most are aimed at containment and impact reduction rather than eradication.

• The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs for those in the trade) looks really cool and fun but has limited application currently for herbicide application. Smaller drones could be really useful for some survey and mapping tasks.

• The use of fire in weed control is still poorly understood and I suspect, under-utilised.

• There are more chemicals out there than you can point a spray unit at!

• Agronomists can still be very dangerous – like the one who was advocating the application of fertiliser at high rates followed by heavy grazing to control Giant Rat’s Tail Grass. 

Most delegates had not heard of Bush Heritage, and were only vaguely aware of the private conservation sector, so I was able to enlighten them during the ample opportunities to chat over a coffee or beer, and during my keynote presentation on ‘Factors influencing the success of weed control in the private conservation sector: trade-offs, triage and triumphs’ (paper is available on request to those of you who are interested). My thanks to Murray H, Leanne H, Paul H and Paul Y for their help with preparing the paper and presentation.
So, where’s that spray-gun?