How local landholders are winning the war on the weed
THE PRICKLY acacia remains in the scope of Rockhampton Regional Council to control as last week, Cr Neil Fisher showed his concern that the weed had become a threat to the local ecosystem.
The Morning Bulletin took a trip out to Fitzroy Nursery with Shannon from Fitzroy Basin Association to see what impact a five year program that is nearing completion has had on the invasive weed.
The FBAs program aimed to work with landholders in the area in order to fight the spread of the weed through incentivising chemicals and other treatment methods and encouraging group action.
Shannon Van Nunen, an FBA field officer said the success in battling the weed in the Rockhampton floodplains was visibly evident during the drive out to the Fitzroy Nurseries to meet the landowner, Bill Dargel.
"The weed has been a problem in the region for decades, but in 2013 we (FBA) started an incentive based weed control program as part of a larger program trying to improve the health of the lower Fitzroy area,” Mr Van Nunen said.
"The landholders we are dealing with have had problems with the weed for generations.
"I actually did a letter box drop along with a good media campaign to let land holders know there is an option to work with us.”
"A FBA field officer would then organise time to visit the property with mapping equipment and then we would establish an agreement with the landholder on how much they are going to treat and how much the program could incentivise it.”
Mr Van Nunen said the key to managing the prickly acacia was persistence as he believed eradication was impossible.
"It's one of those unfortunate cycles that if you don't keep up with investing in management, it will come back because one medium size plant drops up to 145,000 viable seeds a year.”
"So far during the program, our calculations suggest we have removed trillions of seeds from the flood plain.
"Is eradication possible? I haven't seen it yet. It has just become a part of property management in this part of the country.”
On the approach to Bill Dargel's Fitzroy Nurseries, it became blindingly obvious that Mr Dargel, with the help of the FBA program was winning the tedious war on the prickly acacia.
The land surrounding his nursery boasted healthy cows and native vegetation with only a hand full of knee-height acacia's and a few skeletons of the fallen foe.
However, that was not always the case.
He told of a time where you would look into his paddock from the road and you could not see through the weeds.
"All of my blocks had prickly acacia on them.”
"I have had to deal with prickly acacia my whole life.
"We have used machines, Access (a chemical) and diesel to control the prickly acacia.”
He said, at times, controlling the weed was daunting and seemed as if it would never end - which was correct - but the task had become easier the longer the fight went on.
"We have had good success and we have been able to keep up, but if someone upstream from us hasn't been keeping on top of it, we'll have a problem with new seeds,” Mr Dargel said.
"At the start, It's daunting to wander how the hell you are going to get on top of it and it's disheartening because it means more work, but if you can stay on it the work gets easier.
"The program was very important and was probably the main instigator for us to go out there and hit it hard.
"It's just so nasty and it keeps coming back.”
Mr Dargel said getting on top of the weed has given him a better outlook on his life on the land and he now reaps the benefits of what his land has to offer him, his horses and his cattle.
"Now that my land has been cleared up, I get so much more joy out of it, even something as simple as driving around and having a look at the cows without having to worry about the horrible prickly acacia.”
Mr Van Nunen praised the mammoth efforts of local land holders to keep on top of the acacia around the floodplain and despite their humbleness, they have been the key to the success of the program.