OVER the past four years Cooma-Monaro Shire Council has assisted landholders in a broad scale aerial assault on noxious weeds, focusing mainly on dense, inaccessible infestations of Serrated Tussock.
Aerial surveillance was initially used as a cost effective means of identifying infestations in areas which have previously been difficult to access by ground. Surveys of more than 100,000 hectares were performed by helicopter, flying 300 metre north-south swathes. During the surveys infestations were recorded and mapped across all land tenures and the survey data, when analysed formed the basis for a targeted, on- ground inspection and control program.
The survey data aided land managers in developing weed control strategies to ensure the effective control of identified infestations. The nil tenure approach ensured that information was gathered across all land tenures, whether private or publicly owned, to ensure a coordinated approach between relevant stakeholders.
To enable landholders to cooperatively address weed infestations in difficult terrain Cooma-Monaro Shire Council has assisted in the coordination of extensive aerial spraying programs over the last four years. The aerial spraying of Serrated Tussock has proven to an extremely cost-effective means of controlling dense infestations in remote and inaccessible terrain.
Due to the considerable interest from landholders, Council staff have coordinated an aerial spraying program every six months, which has given property owners regular access to this service.
More than 250 landholders have taken advantage of the aerial spraying programs during this time with in excess of 10,000 hectares of dense Serrated Tussock being treated. The cost to landholders for this service has consistently been between $80-$95 per hectare including application, chemical and GST.
To ensure the effective and residual control of Serrated Tussock infestations landholders have used the herbicide, Flupropanate which when applied at rates appropriate to the soil type has limited effect on some native and introduced pastures and no effect on trees or broadleaf plants. This shows that many property owners are committed to noxious weed control on the Monaro with nearly 1 million dollars having been used for control from the air alone.
Staff in the adjoining council areas of Snowy River and Bombala have also joined forces with Cooma-Monaro Shire Council to maximize the control of Serrated Tussock throughout the Monaro.
While aerial assault is not the silver bullet in the battle against Serrated Tussock, it is another valuable tool and landholders throughout the Monaro are seeing a gradual reduction in the strangle hold that Serrated Tussock has for many years had on the Monaro.