What is it with weeds?

A weed is simply a plant growing in the wrong place. In our part of the world weeds  threaten the integrity of native vegetation remnants  and farmers identify weeds as a major issue in the sustainability of their farming enterprises. Huge amounts of resources and time are spent combatting weeds in both natural and agricultural systems, and our region’s warm and wet and wonderful climate  also supports prolific weed growth.

The first step in weed control is the correct identification. Many weeds have specific control methods linked to the plant’s life cycle or chemical sensitivity. What works to control  one weed may promote the spread of another so identification is important. There are many web based and written resources to help with this an excellent one is uploaded below-Weeds of the North Coast of NSW, we also have hard copies of these and other weed resources in our office.

Successful weed control usually  integrates a number of approaches: a process known as integrated weed control.

Integrated weed control considers:

  1. Choosing a range of control methods (eg chemical, cultivation, hand pulling)
  2. The removal of the weed (weed control)
  3. Encouragement of desirable species (competition)
  4. Follow-up control

Whatever the method chosen, it is  important to consider what will happen after control activities which usually result in either bare soil or disturbance of some sort – conditions which favour colonisation by more weeds! For example, will the weed be replaced by a native vegetation in a remnant or will better pasture plants be encouraged to grow in its place in an agricultural situation?

A significant decision is whether to use a chemical or non-chemical control method. Considerations include the particular sensitivity of a species to chemicals, the extent of the infestation,  how and where the weed is growing, and control equipment and time availalbe. The Landcare Office has many resources to help you make the right choice for the right weed in each situation.

When using a herbicide, following the label is essential. The label is a legal document and specifies the plants that the particular herbicide is registered to control, as well as application methods and application rates.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) can be found on the Internet. These give detailed information about the chemical, any handling and transport restrictions, toxicity rating, poisoning advice, etc.

What are “Noxious” weeds?

Noxious weeds are those that are classified under legislation and landholders may have a responsibility to control certain weeds on their property  by law. The Noxious Weeds Act, 1993, was amended in 2005 and now has five classes of weeds:

Class 1 State prohibited (plants must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant)
Class 2 Regionally prohibited (as above)
Class 3 Regionally controlled (preventing spread, plants must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed)
Class 4 Locally controlled (impact of those plants on the economy, community or environment must be minimised, growth and spreadof these plants to be controlled according to a local Council management plan)
Class 5 Class 5

Bellingen Shire Council is the Local Control Authority (LCA) which has the responsibility of implementing the Noxious Weeds Act in our area. Council’s Invasive Plants Officer Carmen Muldoon works with landholders to ensure their responsibilites are understood and implemented. Her contact number at Council is 6655 7385.

Environmental weeds

Environmental weeds pose a threat to native habitat and communities of  plants and animals. There may not be a legal responsibility to control some of these but they can have huge impacts on native habitats and reduce biodiversity. Some have the potential spread into agricultural systems. Government support is available to support environmental weed control in certain circumstances. Some our our worst local environmental weeds are:

Bamboo
Camphor laurel
Celtis
Groundsel Bush
Lantana
Madeira vine
Mother of Millions
Privet
Salvinia

Agricultural weeds 

These weeds pose a threat to agricultural productivity. Locally important species include:

Fireweed
Chilean Needle Grass
Coolatai Grass
Crofton Weed
Giant Paramatta Grass

A  local weed identification booklet  Weeds of the North Coast of NSWa guide to identification and control has been developed by the Coffs Harbour Regional Landcare with funding from the AustralWeeds book cover for websiteian Government’s Caring for Our Country program. It is a comprehensive booklet with high quality photos and detailed descriptions of local weeds and the methods that can be used to control them. While not every plant that is considered a weed on the North Coast  is included, the booklet’s focus is on the most invasive species and those that are newly emerging in this region.

Each chapter of the booklet can be viewed and downloaded individually by clicking on the links below. Thank you to Coffs Landcare for this valuable resource.

Introduction 

Ground-Layers

Grasses

Vines-and-Scramblers

Trees Shrubs

Shrubs

Aquatic-Plants

Glossary-Index