Weed men­ace

Shepparton News - Country News - - FRONT PAGE -

A pesky weed is in­vad­ing the streets of Mer­rigum, with one res­i­dent say­ing it is tak­ing hun­dreds of litres of her­bi­cide to keep it at bay.

Frank Vara­pa­dio, who has lived in the area for a num­ber of years, says the weed Al­ter­nan­thera pun­gens Kunth, known as khaki weed, is ‘‘worse than bindi-eye’’.

Af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the weed three years ago, Mr Vara­pa­dio said he had been see­ing its pres­ence in the com­mu­nity in­crease, de­spite at­tempts to spray and re­move it. ‘‘It’s just ev­ery­where,’’ he said. Mr Vara­pa­dio said the weed could eas­ily spread into nearby pas­tures, mak­ing them ‘‘use­less’’.

He said the sit­u­a­tion be­came worse when the Con­nec­tions pro­ject be­gan, with ve­hi­cles in­volved in the con­struc­tion work spread­ing the plant’s spurs with their tyres.

‘‘It only grows along chan­nel banks or where they have trav­elled and spread it.

‘‘If you spray it then you only get about a quar­ter the next year.’’

With the weed vis­i­ble along chan­nel banks and through the main street of Mer­rigum, Mr Vara­pa­dio is call­ing on Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter to im­prove its con­trol of the weed.

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria puts the sta­tus of the weed in the north-cen­tral and Goul­burn Bro­ken catch­ments as ‘re­gion­ally con­trolled’.

G-MW field ser­vices man­ager Stu­art Nield said khaki weed had been an ‘‘emerg­ing weed’’ for a num­ber of years and was com­monly found on the side of roads.

‘‘It is a pro­lific seeder and can spread when the weed’s prickly burrs at­tach to an­i­mals, equip­ment and cloth­ing,’’ Mr Nield said.

‘‘Ve­hi­cle tyres con­trib­ute to its dis­per­sal which is why it is known to spread rapidly along road­sides. Khaki weed has been found on G-MW channels and drains.’’

Mr Nield said the Aquatic Plants Ser­vice Unit was re­spon­si­ble for the mon­i­tor­ing and con­trol of ter­res­trial and aquatic weeds across the Goul­burn Mur­ray Ir­ri­gation District.

‘‘The unit has been mon­i­tor­ing and ac­tively treat­ing khaki weed for a num­ber of years now as part of its Ac­cess and Vis­i­bil­ity Spray Pro­gram,’’ he said.

This pro­gram op­er­ates through­out the year to keep weeds at bay on and around G-MW’s ir­ri­gation and drainage in­fra­struc­ture.

Mr Nield said G-MW also worked with agen­cies in­clud­ing DEDJTR and catch­ment man­age­ment au­thor­i­ties. Al­ter­nan­thera pun­gens Kunth, known as khaki grass, has spread along ir­ri­gation channels and road­sides.

Los­ing bat­tle . . . Mer­rigum’s Frank Vara­pa­dio says khaki grass is tak­ing a hold across the re­gion.

Pesky pest . . .

On the move . . . The ground­cover weed also has burrs that at­tach to ve­hi­cles and cloth­ing.

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