Bindi-eye weed a prickly foe
Rob Bygrave: So if you spray, it kills your lucerne too.
WHEN Arthur Maynard is driving his tractor, he never looks at how pretty the sky is, how the crop is going, or how the neighbours’ cattle look because his eyes are completely trained upon enemy number one: bindi-eyes.
The prickles have sprung up in lucerne paddocks with a vengeance following the recent flood and rainy weather in Monto, and growers have been faced with the heart-breaking task of ploughing up their crops.
“I’ve been trying to suppress them all summer but with the timing of the flood and rain, I’ve had to execute a couple of paddocks,” Mr Maynard said.
“I’d love to see a chemical to spray them because the only way to get rid of them is to plough the paddock.
“I never look at how pretty the sky is when I’m driving a tractor.
“I’m completely focused on the ground.
ONGOING BATTLE: Moonford farmer Arthur Maynard says bindi-eye is a scourge in his lucerne paddocks.
“Some days I’ll spend 10-15 hours just cutting out the burrs.”
The Moonford farmer laid claim to pioneering a technique for “keeping a cap” on bindi-eye by spraying it with Round-Up.
But he said in reality it was only a quick-fix for the recurring problem.
“It’s just like fertilising them in the long run, because if you spray 10 plants, they will come back with 200 to 300 in their place,” he said.
Langley Flats farmer Rob Bygrave has also struggled with the “unkillable” weed.
“The worst thing is that the prickles are in the same family as clover, which is very similar to lucerne,” he said.
“So if you spray, it kills your lucerne too.”
He said the best way to deal with bindi-eye was to rotate crops, but once they set in the only thing to do was make second-rate hay, or start from scratch.
After ploughing the crop he suggested replanting with a cereal crop to make sure all the prickles were gone, before replanting with lucerne again.
“I’ve got 25 acres (10ha) of nice, lovely-looking hay but I can’t put a foot down without getting a prickle in it,” he said.
“If you’ve just planted a new crop (and bindi-eye sets in), it’s heartbreaking, I tell you.”
Although Mr Bygrave said the first winter frost would kill the dreaded prickles, they would return as soon as summer came around again.