Compost new weapon in farmers’ war on weeds (old version)


(Narrator) Farmers across the Monaro
tablelands in Southern New South Wales are struggling with a major
infestation of the noxious weed African Lovegrass. The weed now covers more
than 80,000 hectares and is threatening the long
term viability of farms that have existed in the
region for generations. Local grazier David Goggin says
African Lovegrass has become a huge problem. (David Goggin) It’s
very, very difficult. It’s taking over the land and not only
here it’s spreading in all directions like hundreds of kilometres
away as well as the local area and it will continue to do so. (Narrator) With financial support from the New South Wales
Environment Protection Authority a new company, Australian
Soil Management, is now trialling the use
of high grade compost in the control of
African Lovegrass. Company Director, Greg Bender, says
Lovegrass needs to be controlled to help ensure farms on
the Monaro are viable. (Greg Bender) We’re looking to improve
the viability of grazing enterprises. They’re struggling at the moment because Lovegrass is
taking over their farms and it’s not very
good for cattle. It’s not nutritious. In fact, it’s dormant in winter
and it’s frost sensitive. They’ve got no winter feed. Well initially we noticed,
we saw, farmer observations with Lovegrass not growing
around compost heaps. That’s what started us
thinking about compost as a possible solution
to Lovegrass. (Narrator) The compost being used
in the African Lovegrass trial is being produced locally by the
Cooma Monaro Shire Council. Council’s Facility
Supervisor, Rex Freebody, says the green waste to make
the compost is sourced locally from the town’s 8,000 residents. (Rex Freebody) The green matter is
coming from our kerbside collections, which is food and garden waste. We mix it with our cow
manure from the abattoirs and then we mix it in
with our mulch as well and then we used the Aeromaster. We turn it in and
we water it down. [Aeromaster operation sounds] We’ve taken on average 30 tonne a
week away from your normal landfill. (Narrator) The signs that Council’s
high grade compost is having an impact on the African Lovegrass has
become increasingly apparent in the trials being conducted
by Australian Soil Management. (Norman Marshall) We have six strips
and on each strip we’re measuring the difference that the compost
makes to the soil fertility and the different types of grasses
that will out compete the Lovegrass. The soil analysis is showing after 12
months great changes in the fertility and we’re seeing new
species of grass come back that haven’t been here
for quite a while. So things are starting to
out compete the Lovegrass because on the zero treatment
areas we’re not getting the growth of the new grasses
and the height of the grasses compared to the three
and five tonne strips. Very encouraging and we believe that this is
certainly a new management tool for farmers to consider. (David Goggin) Yeah, like all the
plants up there just seem healthier and keener to grow than the ones
beside where they had no treatment

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