Tussock Tamer Field Day

From Hoes to Helicopters Field Day Report by Bob Spiller

If we include DPI Agronomist Fiona Leech’s mother and son, together with helicopter tragics Scott Armour and toddler, all of whom arrived as we were packing up at the end of the day, we can say just over 80 people attended our recent field day at Yellangalo. They came from next door and the furthest reaches of the shire. We advertised the day as offering something for newcomers to the war on weeds and grizzled weed warriors alike. There were certainly people in both categories and by all accounts they all found the day both interesting and entertaining.

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Yellangalo, now managed by Caroline Low and Rosie Fell [the daughters of our late members Michael and Alison Nicholls]

IMG_5424 (1024x683) - Copy, has had a long and publicly visible history of battling a Serrated Tussock problem which has bedeviled this property and others in the district from the 1930s. Acting on advice from Fiona Leech, Council Senior Weeds Manager Paul Brown and Roger Willoughby from Gunning Ag and Water, Caroline and Rosie have made significant gains on the Serrated Tussock infestations on their property. They are to be commended for the progress they have made.

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The throng was treated to presentations by Fiona Leech, rural educator Alison Elvin, aerial spraying contractor Scott Montgomery of Rotary Services Australia and John Brotchie of Ag Innovations which is marketing a promising new chemical – granular flupropanate. Martin Walsh and Nic Clancy demonstrated the correct spraying techniques for flupropanate and glyphosate [there being evidence that failure to pay proper attention to this is a common cause of failure for both newcomers and experienced land managers]. Sue Mackenzie,

Brendan O’Reilly and Paul Brown, who were among our supporting artistes for the day, also fielded a lot of enquiries from people.

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The key messages were:

  1. Happy is the person who does not have a problem on the scale of Yellangalo’s. Keep things that way by being vigilant and removing individual plants and small infestations as soon as you see them.
  2. There is no one best way to tackle this weed. Different properties have a different array of problems and potential solutions.
  3. However you attack Serrated Tussock, be it manually or chemically, do all that you can to retain and encourage other grasses and ground cover plants to out compete the weed and prevent its return.
  4. Even if you have an Armageddon scale problem you can beat it. Caroline and Rosie are showing they are well on the way to doing so. Neighbours Sue MacKenzie and Don Thomas, Brendan O’Reilly and Phillip and Karen Chapple all are living proof that large scale infestations can be removed and kept out despite being near prolific seed banks.
  5. Even if you are winning against weeds, don’t think you know it all. There are always new things to learn and small tips to pick up which can make your job easier, cheaper and more effective.

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Granular flupropanate is a new weapon in our armoury against Serrated Tussock. It is sold in a handy shaker pack you could carry with you to kill individual plants and small groups of them whenever you come upon them. The farmer’s dream come true? Quite possibly but so too were the cane toad and DDT. It would be very easy, following John Brotchie’s instructions, to lay waste to a square metre around the weed. Not a good way to promote ground cover to out compete the weed as Fiona Leech pointed out from the sidelines during John’s presentation. I hope to have more on this issue in a later newsletter.

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We had a special Ladevale edition of Tussock Talk, a periodic newsletter of the NSW and Serrated Tussock Working Party, to give people at the field day. You can download it here: . Tussock Talk March 2013 Special edition

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President Genevieve thanked all who helped make the field day a success at the time but further thanks would not be overdoing it. So, thank you to the following members of the Event Management Team:

  • Gate attendants and bouncers Ann Darbyshire, Andrew Basnett and Kristen Proudfoot;
  • Roadies Gordon Starr, Norman Hindley, Sue MacKenzie and Don Thomas;
  • Catering crew Doug Darbyshire, John Walsh and Norman Hindley;
  • Rosemary Spiller who did all of the above and more;
  • Venue providers Caroline Low and Rosie Fell;
  • Supporting artistes Sue MacKenzie, Brendan O’Reilly, Paul Brown, Martin Walsh and Nic Clancy; and
  • I would particularly like to thank and apologise to Vince and Janet Heffernan whose very willing readiness to help with the day was not followed through on due to inexplicable bungling on my part.

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