Neighbourly aerial support program – Murgheboluc , Victoria By Tim Johnston 2019

When James Boyd acquired his 118 ha property in Murgheboluc in late 2016, he was unfamiliar with the challenges associated with managing serrated tussock.

Having relocated from a property near Hamilton, James says that ‘bent grass’ was the main weed of concern, however, he concedes that serrated tussock is a whole new ball game.

The newly acquired property located along the Barwon River had been poorly maintained by the previous owner.  Soon after taking ownership, James was approached by his neighbour Nick Laurie, who had concerns about the lack of serrated tussock control over the years.  After some welcoming neighbourly discussions, James now recognises that the property has significant serrated tussock issues and he is now committed to undertake ongoing control measures.

Tim Johnston, VSTWP Extension Officer, inspected the property in May 2018 and observed some great work by James, including spot spraying around the property with a glyphosate/flupropanate mix and cropping on the flatter sections for serrated tussock control.  However, the steep slopes along the Barwon River boundary posed some issues, as they were difficult to access and had significant infestations.

James’ neighbour Nick also had significant infestations on steep sloping country, and it was decided that aerial spraying with flupropanate was the preferred option for control.  Flupropanate is a selective herbicide that provides up to 3 years residual control of serrated tussock and is considered safe to use near waterways when the label directions are followed.

Following discussions with a number of neighbours, Nick coordinated five landholders to share the costs associated with engaging County Helicopters from Ballarat.  Initially the intention was to aerial spray in early 2018, however due to the dry seasonal conditions the contractor undertook the operations in June 2018.

Approximately 100 ha was sprayed in total over the five properties.  James advised that on his property 20 hectares were aerial treated, at a cost of $1,150 plus chemical, at a total of approximately $100 per ha.

Tim Johnston revisited the property in May 2019 and noted excellent serrated tussock control on the steep slopes following the aerial spraying.  For ongoing management Tim advised “Like most serrated tussock infestations this is a work in progress and for long-term success continued vigilance and follow-up treatment is essential.”

“This is the case even when using residual herbicide, as seed remains viable in the soil far longer than a chemical’s residual effects, said Mr Johnston”

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