Herbicide help to halt weed

Ann RawlingsCountryman
Skeleton weed in a paddock at Kondinin.
Camera IconSkeleton weed in a paddock at Kondinin. Credit: Danella Bevis

WA farmers can now access another tool in the fight against skeleton weed, with those behind an industry-led program adding the herbicide Lontrel to its landholder assistance scheme.

In time for winter control, the Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Funding Scheme has moved to cover the cost of the group 1 herbicide in a bid to boost eradication efforts across the State.

Lontrel is used in the control of a range of broadleaf weeds in cereal crops, including wheat, barley and oats, and in pastures and fallow land. It now joins Tordon on the scheme’s list of approved chemicals.

Grains, Seeds and Hay IFS chairman Rohan Day said growers with reported infestations could also now benefit from improved search assistance rates.

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“We’ve made some changes for the coming season,” Mr Day said.

“The landholder search assistance rate is now $6 a hectare, previously it was $4/ha — those who search their own paddocks are eligible for this new rate.”

The contractor search assistance rate has also risen from $8.50/ha to $9/ha, although work must be undertaken by scheme-approved suppliers.

This assistance applies to searches of Code 1 and Code 3 paddocks, while re-infested Code 2 paddocks — which revert back to Code 1 — were recently added to the list.

Skeleton weed, estimated to cost WA growers $5.3 million a year, has been gaining ground across the State of late.

The Grains, Seeds and Hay IFS spent $3.4 million in 2017-18 fighting the weed, including $2.14 million towards search assistance and winter herbicide treatments, as well as funding for six Local Action Groups.

There was a significant increase in the amount of area infested with the weed in 2017-18, especially in the eastern zone where wet conditions in 2017 hindered control efforts.

Mr Day said this had prompted the Grains, Seeds and Hay IFS to bolster its offerings to growers.

“We are at the stage where in some areas... skeleton weed seems to be a little bit worse, so we wanted to provide more assistance to landholders,” he said.

“Some landholders may have also recently purchased land or are leasing land where they have inherited a skeleton weed problem.”

Mr Day advised growers to contact their LAG or Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development staff member for more information.

“Up until about two years ago, the shires of Yilgarn and Narembeen were not eligible for Tordon winter treatments. But we changed that and now the whole State is eligible,” he said.

“Summer is for surveillance and seed set control ... but the aim for winter is to kill the plant.”


Code 1

Skeleton weed has been found and paddock requires a full search. Landholder must contact their local biosecurity officer or action group to report the finding. A 20m buffer from the plants needs to be established to form a square, with the plants targeted for winter spray treatment. The weed will need to be spray or cut in summer to prevent viable seed set. After a full search of the paddock in summer, it will become Code 2.

Code 2

Paddocks that had a clear search in the previous season but still require surveillance for re-emergence of skeleton weed. If plants are found, it becomes a Code 1 paddock again. If no plants are found, the paddock status will become a Code 3.

Code 3

This relates to paddocks that have had two clear searches. However, it still requires several full searches of no findings to be removed off the infested list. If plants are found, it will revert to a Code 1 paddock.

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