Continuous improvement remains an important part of the Skeleton Weed Program’s ongoing development and effectiveness.
A number of significant refinements were made to the delivery of the program in 2018/19:
- Previously stock had to be removed from paddocks six weeks before searching. This was reduced to four weeks, to allow famers better flexibility with stock.
- Following feedback from landholders, Code 3 paddocks were included in the search assistance program
- All current treatment recommendations were also reviewed and updated accordingly.
The main focus of the Skeleton Weed Program is on assisting landholders and working with them to eradicate Skeleton weed. Consequently, there were few significant compliance issues.
In the past year, DIPRD and LAG staff have increased the level of auditing of landholders and contract operations in line with the increased funding in 2018/19.
Particular attention has been placed on the work contractors on the search assistance panel and a DPIRD Officer has been appointed to oversee the Quality Assurance Program
Perth metropolitan area
Surveillance in the Perth area was conducted in early December 2018 and February 2019. Winter treatment of the 2017/18 infested sites was undertaken in July 2018 and treatment of 2018/19 sites will be undertaken in July 2019.
All managers of infested sites must conduct searching for (and treatment of) Skeleton weed at their cost or contract DPIRD to undertake the work on a fee-for-service basis, on behalf of the GSHIMC. The current fee-for-service arrangement remains the preferred option for most metropolitan area landholders. The fee-for-service charges of “metro” sites have now been brought into line with the broad acre Skeleton weed season (October to October).
Those land managers who chose to undertake the management themselves were required to report on their activities and were subject to audits in December and February.
New sites continue to be reported or found and awareness is improving, particularly with local governments. The Program has strong support from the City of Cockburn and City of Wanneroo in particular.
Although new sites have been listed, many of the current sites have significantly reduced plant numbers, and some sites have been removed from the infested list.
Local Action Groups
Six Local Action Groups (LAGs), Bruce Rock, Kellerberrin and Corrigin; Avon North; Lakes, Narembeen; Nungarin, Trayning; Mukinbudin and Mt Marshall; and Yilgarn, were funded by the program during 2018/19, receiving a total of
$760 000. Additional funds were provided to enable LAGs to take on more operational activities, allowing DPIRD staff to focus on compliance and coordination of the program.
The development of LAGs to undertake the program’s operation activities in some areas has been very successful. All LAGs are now working autonomously and undertaking almost all tasks previously completed by DPIRD exclusively. LAGs may purchase chemical in their area provided the cost is within 10% of the price the Program Project Manager can obtain for the same chemical.
DPIRD remains the compliance management authority and all compliance requirements are met by DPIRD accordingly.
Industry Funding Schemes
The Skeleton Weed Program continues to operate under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Industry Funding Scheme (Grains) Regulations 2010. Responsibility for approving the funding and operations of the program reside with the Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Management Committee initially appointed by the Minister in June 2010.
The GSHIMC met in April 2018 and approved the programs for the control of Skeleton weed and the eradication of Three-horned bedstraw on behalf of the WA grains industry. The committee recommended a contribution rate on grains, seeds and hay be reduced to 25 cents (down from 30) per tonne for grain and 12.5 cents (down from 15) per tonne for hay. These funds are used to support the Skeleton Weed and Bedstraw Programs, with Skeleton weed allocated 90% of the funds collected.
The reduced contribution rate reflects the higher than average amounts collected over the last few years and the willingness of the committee to respond to this and decrease the burden on landholders, when possible.
All contributions to the scheme are collected by purchasers of grain and hay and are paid into a Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Funding Scheme, Declared Pest Control and Compensation Account, which is managed by DPIRD in consultation with the Grains Industry Management Committee.