Continuous improvement remains an important part of the Skeleton Weed Program’s ongoing development and effectiveness.
Significant refinements were made to the delivery of the Program in 2016/17. These included:
- “Spread modelling” to best predict the spread of skeleton weed and improve the targeting of Surveillance activities.
- Changes made to the “Search Assistance” program bringing the Yilgarn and Narembeen shires back in line with rest of the State
Significantly, for the first time in many years the Narembeen shire showed a decrease in the infested area (12%). This is an encouraging indicator for the effectiveness of the program.
All program milestones have been met and the program has been delivered under budget.
As stated in the 2015/16 Annual Report – the program budget has been set at its current level of (approximately) $3.5m for the foreseeable future and program activities need to be framed within this parameter.
The Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Management Committee (GSH IMC) believes the current program is delivering the best value for the funding provided and is achieving the Project Outcomes of eradication (where possible), management (on infested sites), and limiting the spread of skeleton weed across the wheatbelt.
There has been no significant increase in the “Infested Area” of skeleton weed in 2016/17.
Contractors again searched the majority (60%) of the available “Code 1” area eligible for search assistance. A total of 56 new infested properties were reported by landholders or found by the Department (DPIRD) and/or Local Action Group (LAG) staff undertaking targeted surveillance.
DPIRD and LAG staff audited all eligible properties, to remove them from the infested list, and skeleton weed was eradicated on 36 properties in 2016/17. This compares with 58 properties removed in 2015/16.
This is a net gain of 20 properties and increases the total number of infested properties in the State to 1,006.
A total of 2,448ha was recorded as infested during the 2016/17 Search Season and marked for “winter treatment” in 2017. Approximately 1,000ha of this area are a ‘whole paddock treatment’ with LontrelTM.
A slight increase in the cost of winter treatment is expected in the 2017/18 budget, with the GSHIMC voting at its October 2016 meeting to include the Yilgarn and Narembeen shires in the Winter Spraying Program. This means that all shires across the wheatbelt are now eligible for all “assistance” provided by the Skeleton Weed Program.