Case Study: Controlling Serrated Tussock on a Greendale hobby Farm, VIC

Written by Ivan Carter, VSTWP Extension Officer,

Simon and his family recently constructed their dream home on a 20-acre plot in the southern region of Greendale, near the Pykes Creek Reservoir. The land, rich with fertile dark loam soils, was ideal for small-scale farming. To protect their property from wind, noise, and the potential invasion of wind-dispersed weeds, Simon strategically revegetated the boundaries.

Despite their efforts, the family, being new to the area, was initially oblivious to the threat of the highly invasive weed, serrated tussock. This weed is prevalent in many areas around Pykes Creek, with the Western Freeway acting as a significant pathway for seed dispersal. During the construction of their house, Simon spotted a few plants that he suspected could be serrated tussock, but he was uncertain about the specifics of its identification.

In the spring of 2023, seeking assistance with plant identification, Simon reached out to an Extension Officer from the Victorian Serrated Tussock Working Party (VSTWP). The officer, who was providing serrated tussock education and extension services to landowners in the Greendale area at the time, offered a free property assessment, which Simon promptly arranged.

During the consultation, Simon and the VSTWP Extension Officer surveyed the property, with Simon identifying the plants he suspected to be serrated tussock. To Simon’s relief, the Extension Officer identified the plants as a native Poa species, which can easily be mistaken for serrated tussock by the untrained eye.

However, the property assessment revealed the presence of 50 mature serrated tussock plants in a paddock adjacent to the roadside. This discovery surprised Simon, who had not previously noticed these plants and was concerned about their potential spread and impact on his property.

The Extension Officer mapped the locations of the serrated tussock plants and provided Simon with advice on the best practices for treating the plants. The officer also provided Simon with a management guide, which recommended the immediate manual removal of the plants and their replacement with perennial pasture species. The guide’s medium-term plan involved improving the pastures across the arable areas of the property to minimize further germination of serrated tussock plants and provide a competitive defence against future infestations.

The long-term management strategy for the property includes monitoring and manual removal of plants every spring and autumn, along with pasture improvement to establish a ground cover of desirable species. Simon realized that if the serrated tussock had not been identified and managed promptly, his property could have been overrun by a large quantity of seeds, leading to denser infestations, an increased seed bank, and a heightened management commitment for years to come.

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(Image 1: Spot spraying of serrated tussock and Gorse, successfully)