Farmers have cactus in their sights

THE destructive weed harrisia cactus has been spreading at an alarming rate over the past 15 years.

Hugh McMicking and Bec Morrissy.

Hugh McMicking and Bec Morrissy.

There is still so much to learn about how to control it, according to Boggabilla farmer Richard Doyle.

For the past three years Mr Doyle has spent 470 hours spraying harrisia on his property, trying to get the heavy infestations under control, which is directly affecting his business. 

In a bid to learn more about effective harrisia control and assist in refining control methods, a high profile harrisia herbicide treatment trial site between Goondiwindi and Boggabilla has been established by North West Local Land Services.

The initiative will see North West Weeds and Waggamba Landcare trialing and extending results from a range of different herbicide applications and rates, applied at various times of year.  

The trial site, situated on Gunsynd Way opposite the Boomi Road turn off, was chosen for its ease of access for the public who are encouraged to follow the progress of the trials and call into the site at anytime.

With its sharp spines and prolific seed production, harrisia forms impenetrable thickets which reduces stock carrying capacity, suppresses pasture species, punctures tyres and affects the productivity of landholders.

Waggamba Landcare Coordinator Bec Morrissy said “We can’t afford to ignore harrisia any longer. This invasive weed is controllable and the best time to take action is now when the plant is actively growing.”

Waggamba Landcare embarked on a harrisia awareness campaign in September, which has resulted in an increase in harrisia sightings and reporting. It is essential that this continue in order to make effective headway in the fight to control this weed.

“Harrisia is definitely on the move and creeping into new areas all the time,” Ms Morrissy said.

Moonie farmer Lucille Graham said they have noticed a significant increase of harrisia in timbered areas around the Weir River system.

“Two years ago we found a little patch on our property and noticed it was starting to spread. We can’t believe how fast it grows and now have a number of patches quite a distance apart from each other,” Mrs Graham said.

Waggamba Landcare are urging producers in the Weir River and Boondandilla forestry area to be vigilant in checking their timbered area as it is developing as a new hotspot, particularly for the encroachment of harrisia tortuosa which is currently found around Millmerran. 

This variety is even worse than that found around Goondiwindi and North Star, with more spikes and much thicker stems.

Border Rivers landholders are being urged to join the fight against harrisia to stop the spread.

Field days will be held at the trial site throughout year and locals are encouraged to contact Waggamba Landcare for dates.

For further information on harrisia, visit Waggamba Landcare’s website www.waggambalandcare.org or contact Landcare Coordinator Bec Morrissy on phone 0428 738 125 or email w.landcare@gmail.com