New guidelines are now available to help landowners battling fireweed, an introduced species that competes with pasture grasses and can be poisonous to livestock.
The daisy-like pest grows from 100mm to 600mm high in mild, warm conditions, with heavy infestations often resulting from neglect of previous fireweed outbreaks and a lack of good ground cover caused by overgrazing, drought, fire or slashing.
Chair of Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee and Division 4 Councillor Russell Milligan said now was the time to act as fireweed approached peak growth season.
“Even property owners with small fireweed infestations should develop a plan to start reducing the size of infestations in future years,” Cr Milligan said.
“Fireweed seeds can be viable in the soil for many years after the plant is gone.
“Every flower on a fireweed plant can produce up to 150 seeds, which can mean many years of infestations that increase in size year on year.
“Spending the time to develop a plan for your property can pay dividends in future years.
“Effective property management does not have to be expensive, especially if you can get onto the plants early in the season, before they flower and produce seed.”
Fireweed usually presents as a low, heavily branched annual or short-lived perennial plant that thrives on spring conditions, when the temperature is between 15-27 degrees Celsius.
The following measures are advised to prevent fireweed spread:
Make a plan
Although landowners are not required to develop a property pest management plan, effective planning is an extremely useful management tool. Developing a pest management plan will help you:
- Effectively control invasive plants on your property.
- Comply with the Biosecurity Act to show you are meeting your general biosecurity obligations.
- Coordinate weed control activities with your neighbours.
- Integrate pest animal control activities with weed control activities and other components of your property plan.
- Improve efficiency by prioritising control activities using resources at optimal times.
- Monitor how well control activities are working and communicate achievements.
A property plan should focus on the extremities of your infestation and work inwards from there. The idea is to first contain your infestation (to stop spread into clean areas or other properties) and then reduce your infestation gradually, making it easier to manage with each treatment.
Use the right control method at the right time
Herbicides can be expensive. Their effectiveness will depend on their application rates and the stage in the plant’s lifecycle that you apply the herbicide. While there are herbicides that target all stages in the lifecycle, cost can depend on the application stage.
An inexpensive and practical solution is 2,4-D 625 g/L, which is very effective against fireweed in the early stages of its lifecycle (when the plant appears as a dark green herb growing above the grass cover before it flowers).
Learning to identify the plant and treating it before it flowers provides a double benefit, in that it reduces your cost and the application rate of your herbicide. This will usually reduce instances of seed proliferation, which will reduce your treatment costs overall.
Don’t let your infestation get out-of-hand
Heavy infestations of fireweed often result from neglect of steadily increasing fireweed infestations over previous years and lack of good ground cover caused by overgrazing, drought, fire or slashing.
Apply for a permit to dispose of your fireweed without incurring a fee
A permit to dispose of fireweed at a Council waste facility is available to landholders upon application. The permits remain current for three months and are renewable by contacting Council’s Pest Management Compliance Officer and requesting a renewal.
- The matter must be transported directly to the facility within a securely tied, sturdy, plastic garbage bag.
- The matter must not be mixed with any other waste (including other green waste) or fees will apply to the disposal.
- No more than two cubic metres of matter are permitted on each visit to the transfer station.
- The permit must be able to be presented to the operators of the waste facility on every occasion the matter is disposed of.