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Neems starting to die on control site

Neem second time through - July 2008

With just over 9,000 ha of neems destroyed work has started on evaluating the success rate of the initial work and how much re-infestation could be expected.
Three sites have been gone over between once and twice more they are –

  • Weaber Plain Monitoring Site: 29hectatres.
  • Lake Kununurra monitoring site: 140 hectares.
  • Cave Springs monitoring site: 160 hectares.

The Weaber Plain site showed a 38% reduction in plants after two periods of control but the there was an unexpected reinfestation of seedlings from a tree unsighted in an adjoining property.
The Lake Kununurra site showed a 34% reduction in plants after one control period. Work is currently underway on the second control period. There are expectations that this percentage of control will increase significantly
 The Cave Springs site showed a 95% reduction in plants after two periods of control.  

Both the Weaber Plain and Lake Kununurra sites were classed as very heavy to medium density infestations (over 1,000 trees/ha) while the Cave Springs site was classed as a medium to light infestation.

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Weed control on Lake Kununara

Weed Control on Lake Kununurra - July 2008

With just over 9,000 ha of neems destroyed work has started on evaluating the success rate of the initial work and how much re-infestation could be expected.
Three sites have been gone over between once and twice more they are –

  • Weaber Plain Monitoring Site: 29hectatres.
  • Lake Kununurra monitoring site: 140 hectares.
  • Cave Springs monitoring site: 160 hectares.

The Weaber Plain site showed a 38% reduction in plants after two periods of control but the there was an unexpected reinfestation of seedlings from a tree unsighted in an adjoining property.
The Lake Kununurra site showed a 34% reduction in plants after one control period. Work is currently underway on the second control period. There are expectations that this percentage of control will increase significantly
 The Cave Springs site showed a 95% reduction in plants after two periods of control.  

Both the Weaber Plain and Lake Kununurra sites were classed as very heavy to medium density infestations (over 1,000 trees/ha) while the Cave Springs site was classed as a medium to light infestation.

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Neem Choked Boab Tree

Neem Trees Threaten Boabs

In a survey by Ord Land and Water of over 200 boab trees throughout Kununurra and the irrigation area more than a third were found to be threatened by neem trees. Some of the earliest trees to be affected are now becoming difficult to spot in amongst the forest of neems that have grown up around them to a height of 5 metres or more.

The line of survey ran from the meat works out at Packsaddle to the end of the irrigation area along Cave Springs Road. It then ran from the Dunham River Bridge eastward along the Highway through town until the 110km limit sign heading towards the border. With the location of all the trees placed into a GPS a density map has been created to be used as base data for future surveys.

Hot spots where trees were most affected were along some stretches of Weaber Plains Road, an isolated section out at Cave Springs and the southern packsaddle area. What was both interesting and encouraging was the fact that once the area of survey moved away from what was likely to be the initial source of spread affected trees numbers rapidly plummeted to just an isolated one or two.

Another interesting point the survey revealed was the high numbers of boab families around. A total of 57 were found ranging from just a couple of trees up to groups of more then twenty. There is some concern that this preferred method of boab distribution could make them very susceptible to neems.

Once a canopy of neem is extended over the ground surrounding a large matriarch tree there is little chance of boab seedlings germinating. Locally neems appear to have started encroaching on native plants between five and seven years ago, at their current rate of spread it may be difficult to find boab trees not a risk outside of a few on private properties or situated in parklands in another five years.

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Neem after spraying

Neem tree control trials

Ord Land and Water has been conducting control trials on private property recently. The trials involved the use of different chemicals and application methods to try and reduce the risk of off-target impacts of weed control.

A Basal bark application of diesel and chemical was used as a control as its effectiveness has been proven in the past. The trial focussed on drilling into the trunk of the tree and injecting chemical into the hole. This method of application has proven to be both very selective and to date effective in killing the trees. 

It is hoped to take this limited trial out to the road verges of a area on Weaber Plains Road and the Cave Springs area where neem trees are prevalent.

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Salvinia breakout

Salvinia threatens a breakout

John Buchanan has recently found himself another little job to fill the supposed gap that comes with retirement; but it seems that he is far busier now with his various activities then when he was working on the farm. As both a new Board member and Chairman of Ord Land and Water John is enjoying the experience of learning the ropes and adding his own experience to his new positions. John came to town with his wife Pat twenty one years ago from Biloela in central Queensland, looking for the challenge and rewards a new irrigation area offers. He worked for the Department of Agriculture and as a farm manager initially, prior to buying a large block of which he successfully farmed on packsaddle. He has since retired to his mango farm in 1998. His interests outside the farming sector have always revolved around service to the community. This is demonstrated by his current roles in Rotary, the Hospital Advisory Committee and as a Shire Councillor. When asked to prioritise what part of the Ord Land and Water Management Plan he has the greatest interest in John believes that the Land and Water components are slightly higher on his scale but also rates the town and conservation components very highly as all four components must be linked for meaningful broad scale progress to be made. What’s important is that sustainable development happens across the whole spectrum of community activities but does not repeat the mistakes of the past. From a community perspective John is a believer in the old style values where people have the motivation and willingness to invest time and effort back into the community to make it a better place for all. Local issues that are important to John are ensuring there is a balance in the allocation of land for different interest sectors through proper planning and finding a means to secure cheaper rates of water to encourage better usage within the town. For the future John believes that agriculture and tourism will continue to grow and hopes that they grow together complimenting each other’s strengths. He sees Ord Land and Water’s role in this future as a means by which the community can ensure that the health and diversity of the river is protected as a sustainable draw card for both tourism and community use.

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Lily Creek

Lily Creek committee formed

The wave of letters to the editor and public debate about the Lake Kununurra foreshore seems to have subsided leaving a promising outcome. The issues and public debate stirred a number of people in our community into putting their names forward to be part of a committee to coordinate the development of a plan for the foreshore. Last Wednesday this committee met for the first time to address committee membership, terms of reference for the group, begin review of the many previous plans and studies that may be relevant and start considering what will be the process for the plan development.

The committee will comprise everyone who expressed an interest in being on the committee also a councillor and representative from the Dept of Environment. People with specialist skills and information will be invited to attend as required. The Shire will facilitate meetings and provide administrative support to the committee.

The plan will focus on Reserve 41812, including that part of it near the Race Club and Rodeo Grounds. Consideration will also be giving to the unallocated crown land on the foreshore between Lilly Creek and the Race Club. Guiding principles will be established for the remaining areas of foreshore on Lake Kununurra. The plan will be presented to Council and other relevant Government bodies for endorsement, upon completion (later this year?).

In developing a plan for the foreshore, the committee will:

  • review previous studies and plans
  • coordinate the community consultation and input to the plan development
  • identify current and future issues pertaining to foreshore management and development
  • analyse development and management options
  • document the communities preferred directions for the future use and/or development of the foreshore.

There was strong sentiment that this project be community driven (via the committee) with reference where necessary to government departments. There are many relevant studies and plans that have been done over the last 20 years, few of which have had much ‘on ground’ impact. The lack of community involvement and subsequent endorsement of these is likely to be a key reason for these plans now collecting dust on shelves. The committee agreed they want this planning process is to deliver something that stays off the shelf and guides future development and use of the foreshore. To do this, they need you to be aware of, and have input to, the planning process.

The committee meets again on April 13 to discuss how to go about developing the plan – how they will get input from all interest and user groups of the Lake on what are the issues, development options etc. It is likely there will be a variety of ways in which the community will be invited to participate. In the meantime if you have any ideas or suggestions that may help this process or want to raise issues you feel must be addressed, please talk with one of the committee members or put your thoughts in writing to the Shire for ‘Attention, Foreshore Planning Committee’.

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Pesticide trial Ord Land

Pesticide Project's final trial

The final experiment of the Ord Land and Water – CSIRO pesticide project was carried out on a sugar cane crop in October of 2004. The experiment looked at the ability of PAM (Polyacrylamide) to reduce the movement off the paddock of the very soluble chemicals currently in use such as atrazine. Earlier experiments showed that PAM when used whilst irrigating could quite effectively reduce the movement off paddock of chemicals that attach themselves to soil particles.

Farmers also wanted this experiment to see if PAM pushed pesticides further into the soil profile and potentially into the groundwater. Whilst farmers are keen to pick up on any new technology that will improve water quality they are mindful that in some cases answers to problems create their own.

In a summary of the results it was shown that PAM didn’t prevent any atrazine moving off the paddock, however neither did it move the chemical deeper into the soil profile. The use of PAM in this experiment did reduce the movement off farm of soil by 58%.

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Latest News

25th Anniversary Landcare grants 2014-15

Ord Land and Water has been successful in gaining a $20,000 grant to map and control the weed lantana on properties just to the north of Kununurra. Lantana is a highly invasive weed and has infested many areas in Queensland and NSW.» More