Houston, weed have a problem

March 14, 2018

Silverleaf nightshade, described as the worst weed in NSW.

IT’S being called public enemy number one.

And Moama district landholders want it gone.

Silverleaf nightshade is considered one of the worst weeds in NSW because it is readily spread by seed and root segments, making it difficult to control, seriously reducing crop and pasture production.

The noxious weed is already causing havoc for farmers throughout the Moama region who are afraid it will continue to spread if it is not controlled properly.

Spot spraying is not 100 per cent effective, so they say getting rid of the weed will take a co-ordinated approach between the responsible authorities and landholders doing the right thing.

Womboota farmer Steve Holschier said his workload had doubled trying to control the weed.

‘‘Next year it will be four weeks and then it will get out of control,’’ he said.

There are also serious concerns the weed will spread down the Travelling Stock Route.

Amos and Caroline Ferguson, whose Womboota farm is next to Storms Reserve, recently wrote a letter to Local Land Services, which is responsible for weed control along the TSR, expressing their concern about the droving of cattle through to the 10 Mile Reserve on Perricoota Rd.

They said the cattle ingested the berries from the weed and then excreted it along the route.

‘‘By allowing this to happen... Murray Local Land Services staff are actively and knowingly facilitating the movement of silverleaf nightshade; a weed that the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ own website describes as ‘one of the worst weeds in NSW’,’’ the letter said.

In a reply letter, Local Land Services general manager Gary Rodda agreed there ‘‘are opportunities to improve our management of travelling stock in this area into the future’’.

‘‘This includes more closely considering the time of the year that travelling stock are permitted to use TSRs between Storms and 5 Mile Reserves,’’ he wrote.

When it comes to controlling weeds along the roadside in the Greater Murray Ward, Central Murray County Council, as well as property owners, are responsible.

However, Murray River Council recently voted to take over control of the total weed program and is awaiting approval from a ministerial level, which could take as long as 12 months.

‘‘I voted for this as I have easier access to farmers and I have been a farmer myself so I know about weeds,’’ Greater Murray Ward Cr Geoff Wise said.

‘‘Some landholders are doing a great job but there are some who don’t do anything about it or even know what it is. We need to educate landholders to be more compliant.’’

Murray River Council general manager Des Bilske said council was aware of concerns about silverleaf nightshade and was liaising with Central Murray County Council and landowners to ensure compliance.

‘‘Silverleaf nightshade is a concern as there has been repeated germination of the weed in the past season, even after control spraying has been conducted, particularly in previously identified sites,’’ he said.

‘‘It can take several years in some instances to gain full control of the weed, at a significant cost to control authorities and land owners.’’

Mr Bilske said if council took over the weed management, its function would be to enforce weed management and complete inspections on public and private land, provide education, training and resources and engage with local land owners to address local issues.

‘‘Council already pays for Central Murray County Council operations within our council area so it is anticipated that it will not increase costs.

‘‘There is a possible reduction in costs as we will not be funding the current administration and depot arrangements.’’

Womboota farmer Malcolm Starritt said the cost to council and landholders was insignificant compared to ‘‘the cost of inaction’’.

‘‘In three to four years, the cost would be double if something isn’t done soon,’’ he said.

Mr Bilske encouraged private landholders to continue to play their part in the ongoing management of established weeds on their own land.

‘‘The general community also provides much needed eyes and ears to help detect and report new incursions and this too goes a long way to support eradication,’’ he said.

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