Pesky weed won’t give up

By Country News

A pesky weed is invading the streets of Merrigum, with one resident saying it is taking hundreds of litres of herbicide to keep it at bay.

Frank Varapodio, who has lived in the area for a number of years, says the weed Alternanthera pungens Kunth, known as khaki weed, is ‘‘worse than bindi-eye’’.

After discovering the weed three years ago, Mr Varapodio said he had been seeing its presence in the community increase, despite attempts to spray and remove it.

‘‘It’s just everywhere,’’ he said.

Mr Varapodio said the weed could easily spread into nearby pastures, making them ‘‘useless’’.

He said the situation became worse when the Connections project began, with vehicles involved in the construction work spreading the plant’s spurs with their tyres.

‘‘It only grows along channel banks or where they have travelled and spread it.

‘‘If you spray it then you only get about a quarter the next year.’’

With the weed visible along channel banks and through the main street of Merrigum, Mr Varapodio is calling on Goulburn-Murray Water to improve its control of the weed.

Agriculture Victoria puts the status of the weed in the north-central and Goulburn Broken catchments as ‘regionally controlled’.

G-MW field services manager Stuart Nield said khaki weed had been an ‘‘emerging weed’’ for a number of years and was commonly found on the side of roads.

‘‘It is a prolific seeder and can spread when the weed’s prickly burrs attach to animals, equipment and clothing,’’ Mr Nield said.

‘‘Vehicle tyres contribute to its dispersal which is why it is known to spread rapidly along roadsides. Khaki weed has been found on G-MW channels and drains.’’

Mr Nield said the Aquatic Plants Service Unit was responsible for the monitoring and control of terrestrial and aquatic weeds across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

‘‘The unit has been monitoring and actively treating khaki weed for a number of years now as part of its Access and Visibility Spray Program,’’ he said.

This program operates throughout the year to keep weeds at bay on and around G-MW’s irrigation and drainage infrastructure.

Mr Nield said G-MW also worked with agencies including DEDJTR and catchment management authorities.