Weed threat­ens cat­tle in­dus­try

Townsville Bulletin - - News -

AN out-of-con­trol weed which can kill live­stock poses a $ 20 bil­lion threat to North Queens­land’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­try. Siam weed was first iden­ti­fied in Aus­tralia in 1994 in sev­eral large in­fes­ta­tions along the Tully River and at Bingil Bay near Mis­sion Beach. It is one of the world’s most in­va­sive weeds and has reached un­con­trol­lable lev­els in Townsville. Biose­cu­rity Queens­land pro­ject co­or­di­na­tor Mick Jef­fery said siam weed was no longer erad­i­ca­ble in North Queens­land and that coun­cil would now sim­ply try to con­trol its spread. Based on the lat­est in­for­ma­tion, Mr Jef­fery said siam weed would out­grow lan­tana. Lan­tana cov­ers 5 mil­lion hectares and costs $ 121 mil­lion to Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture each year.

‘‘ In Townsville, siam weed has a 5 0 0 h a m a n a g e - ment area but a 5 0 0 0 h a s u r v e i l - lance area,’’ Mr Jef­fery said.

‘ ‘ T h e r e i s n o cost to agri­cul­ture a t p r e s e n t b u t $ 7 mil­lion in­vest­ment to date from cost-share part­ners ( to con­trol the weed).

‘‘ The po­ten­tial cost to agri­cul­ture is $ 20 bil­lion and the main im­pact is on the cat­tle in­dus­try.’’ The weed ( pic­tured) has al­ready in­fested lo­ca­tions at Black River, Ross Dam, Alice River, High Range and Al­li­ga­tor Creek. ‘‘ We are close to tip­ping point . . . we do he­li­copter sur­veys ev­ery year and it’s mov­ing more to the south,’’ Mr Jef­fery said. En­vi­ron­ment and Sus­tain­abil­ity Com­mit­tee chair­man Vern Veitch said even though the siam weed was con­fined to a fairly small area, it would take a lot of ef­fort to con­trol. ‘‘ We need to make sure prop­erty own­ers are aware what siam looks like and what they can do to erad­i­cate it,’’ Cr Veitch said

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