Weed threatens cattle industry
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