The import of sugarcane mulch, used by many home gardeners in Western Australia, will be restricted from 31 May this year, because of its potential to carry seeds that could threaten the State’s biosecurity and agriculture.
After this date, a permit will be required to import sugarcane mulch, and permits will only be issued if a system or treatment is in place to ensure its freedom from risk seeds.
Department of Agriculture and Food Director of Invasive Species Viv Read said Western Australia had been importing sugarcane mulch from Queensland for more than two years.
“We began to receive reports from the public about unusual plants germinating from sugarcane mulch in 2011,” Mr Read said.
“The most serious of these identified by the department is Mimosa pudica, a prohibited pest plant in Western Australia reported in late January this year. Since then, careful consideration had been given to dealing with the sugarcane mulch problem.”
Mimosa pudica, often known as common sensitive plant, has sharp prickles that can inhibit grazing and cause painful wounds.
It poses significant potential to become a serious weed in the north of Western Australia.
Mr Read said the new requirements for sugarcane mulch imports would begin on 31 May. Producers, key suppliers and distributors have already been notified. Existing stocks of sugarcane mulch can be sold.
“Import requirements for sugarcane mulch had to be strengthened due to the biosecurity risks posed by this pathway, and an inability to successfully screen for contaminants,” he said.
At this time only irradiation is recognised as an appropriate treatment against seed contaminants.
Mr Read said he appreciated that sugarcane mulch was becoming popular among home gardeners.
“However, this product is not worth the risk it poses to Western Australian biosecurity and agriculture,” Mr Read said.
The restrictions will be introduced under the new Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act) and regulations, which were fully proclaimed on 1 May and replace a number of other Acts, including the Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976, the Plant Diseases Act 1914 and the Seeds Act 1981. The BAM Act provides a new approach and improved efficiency for biosecurity and agricultural management in Western Australia.
For more information or to report any new or unusual weeds germinating from sugarcane mulch, please call the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937