By Tim Johnston, VSTWP EXTENSION OFFICER, 2017
Susan and Garry Wishart farm ‘Leigh Estate’, a grazing based property, situated on the western banks of the Leigh River, Inverleigh. Garry began farming the property in 1983 and can recall when serrated tussock first became an issue in the district in the late 1990s. Initially most landholders were unable to identify the invasive noxious weed or were unaware of the long-term economic consequences on agricultural productivity.
Photo 1: Susan and Garry at Leigh Estate, Inverleigh.
By the early 2000s, ‘Leigh Estate’ had only a few scattered plants and control usually involved chipping out plants and spot spraying with glyphosate in spring. On the flat floodplain country, spot spraying and chipping is relatively easy, but on the escarpment country, spot spraying by bike provided a few more challenges due to the hazardous nature of the steep, rocky slopes.
Over the subsequent two decades, the local Landcare group was instrumental in promoting awareness of serrated tussock, including identification and control management strategies. The VSTWP, through their extension program, have also contributed significantly to bolstering the community’s capacity to identify and manage the weed.
In the spring of 2016, as part of the VSTWP ‘Inverleigh North’ Extension program, Extension Officer Tim Johnston met with the Wishart’s to discuss their serrated tussock management program. Tim reported that their management is based around an annual monitoring and maintenance program, with scattered tussocks appearing yearly, which arise from the seedbed in the soil, the wind-blown seed from surrounding properties and seed carried by waterways. Spot spraying and chipping of plants, good ground cover, competitive pasture species and appropriate cultivation and grazing strategies, have all ensured that the serrated tussock is kept in-check.
The activities at Leigh Estate demonstrate that regular monitoring and management is essential for the long-term control of serrated tussock. Susan continues to be active in promoting awareness of serrated tussock at activities with the Leigh District Landcare Group.
Photo 2: Gary re-inspects previously sprayed plants for new seedlings and germinaitons, as part of their monitoring program.