NSW Farmers, Local Land Services and council target weeds threat

Has the presence of notifiable weeds across Yass Valley increased or has there been a marked decrease in their prolificacy?

That was the issue that raised the ire of landholders leading to a weeds forum held in Yass.

Weed out: NSW Farmers Regional Services manager - central west Catriona McAuliffe, NSW Farmers - Yass Branch chair Carolina Merriman and NSW Farmers regional services and sales manager Jonathan Tuckfield with examples of African lovegrass, Chilean needle grass and tall African lovegrass - notifiable weeds in Yass Valley. Photo: Stephen Burns.

Weed out: NSW Farmers Regional Services manager - central west Catriona McAuliffe, NSW Farmers - Yass Branch chair Carolina Merriman and NSW Farmers regional services and sales manager Jonathan Tuckfield with examples of African lovegrass, Chilean needle grass and tall African lovegrass - notifiable weeds in Yass Valley. Photo: Stephen Burns.

Not least of their concerns was the question of bio-security, where attention is paid to the movement of livestock and vehicles but it appears to many that little attention is paid to notifiable weeds.

Instigated by NSW Farmers Yass branch chair Carolina Merriman and representatives from Yass Valley Council, South East Local Land Services (LLS), NSW Department of Primary Industry and NSW Farmers addressed the concerns of landholders at the meeting.

Serrated tussock was the number one notifiable weed causing most concern, not least for its close resemblance to the native poa tussock grass.

Ms Merriman said it was important for landholders to be vigilant about the control of notifiable weeds and ensure their spread is kept to a minimum.

"Nothing gets done if we don't work together," she said. "We had the forum this morning to let people raise their concerns and hopefully we will get some action from the council and LLS."

One of the problems highlighted was the lack of knowledge from some landholders in being able to recognise the notifiable weeds.

All too often, people who purchase a lifestyle block and have little farming experience don't know which plants are weeds.

As one person said, "They all look like green stuff that grows in the paddocks."

In response, Yass Valley Council environmental services coordinator Mark Livermore said it was an issue of which the council was fully aware of.

"As well as doing inspections on big properties, we are looking at small holdings," Mr Tuckfield said. "We are also attending some of the Landcare meetings and following the feedback from this meeting, we will be looking at going to the next level."

Mr Livermore pointed out that landholders had to take some responsibility and admit they needed help in identifying notifiable weeds on their properties.

It was further suggested that concerned landholders get together in an area and have an on-property walk guided by someone with experience in identifying notifiable weeds and able to provide advice on their control and eradication.

NSW Farmers regional service and sales manager Jonathan Tuckfield said it was easy to blame but landholders did have to take some ownership when it came to notifiable weed control.

He said the issue of controlling weeds and pest animals was something he saw across the state with NSW Farmers branches seeking a solution, yet there were many who didn't consider eradication a priority.

"There are lots of people out there who do not know their obligations, what the requirements are, do not know what the weeds are," he said.

Mr Tuckfield told his audience one process other NSW Farmers branches were considering at a state level, without success, was compulsory weed inspections when local governments sign-off on rural property transfers.

"One other thing which has come up recently is improved/unimproved land valuations where the farmer or landholder who has done a really good job in controlling notifiable weeds is actually paying higher rates because their land is given a higher valuation than a farmer who has done nothing," he said.