Planned improvements to the program in 2019/20
A meeting of DPIRD staff, search contractors and Local Action Groups (LAGs) was held at the end of the 2018/19 search season to discuss changes to optimise the Program’s current operation.
Some of the main issues raised were:
- Concern over the lack of complete seed set control with summer treatments. This continues to be a problem to some landholders and further research is planned to look at improving this.
The current control recommendations have been revised and updated and there are additional chemical options available in 2019/20.
Additional research is also planned for 2019/20 summer.
- Currently Code 2 paddocks require a “surveillance search” and if plants are found these paddocks are not eligible for search assistance until the following year (this tenet has been in place for many years. Landholders and staff have often questioned why “re-infested” Code 2 paddocks are not included in the Search Assistance Program, as they become Code 1 paddocks if plants are found. It was considered that by adding “re-infested” Code 2 paddocks to the Search Assistance Scheme it has greatly enhanced the level of searching and given landholders the option of having this done by a contractor, at a time when most are busy with harvest.
This will now provide “search assistance” to landholders for all paddocks that are currently infested.
- Paddocks that are (greater than 10% infested – by area) are known as “Lontrel Paddocks”. These paddocks have been, to date, the responsibility of the landholder to spray in winter. It has long been suggested by landholders that these paddocks in particular should receive some support from the program to bring them back to a manageable level.
Providing Clopyralid (Lontrel™) herbicide to landholders that want to undertake their own spraying of these paddocks, was considered the best option for this assistance in 2019/20.
- The program is operating satisfactorily where continuous cropping or short rotations were used. However, it was found that eradication was not being achieved as easily where landholders were using longer rotations and some plants were surviving in previously treated squares.
It was agreed to trial the use of a pre-cropping application of picloram in 2019 and this trial is now underway.
- In the 2018/19 summer search season, greater than 9,000ha was searched by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s). This was shown to quite successful and comparable to the traditional searching methods (people searching from vehicles). It also had some advantages with regards to controlled traffic, OHS and reduced fire hazard.
This will again be undertaken and will be greatly improved by the lesson learned and methodology developed last season.