The Rangeland Fibre and Produce Association has been supported by State NRM to commence control of the cactus species Opuntia elatior in the Murchison region.
The infested area is visible along a small creek-line that crosses the Great Northern Highway after escaping from the garden of a Station homestead where it was planted over 70 years ago.
The cactus was able to spread into a small creek where water movement associated with winter flood events has taken the plant along the creek line for approximately 5 km.
Recognising the threat the cactus poses to grazing properties and the environment the Rangeland Fibre and Produce Association successfully applied for a Community Grant from the State NRM office and has received $40,000 to commence control of the cactus.
Cactus species across WA are under greater scrutiny after these species were made Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) in 2013 when it was recognised that cactus species are a high risk of invading agricultural land across all of Australia and has already caused considerable damage in other States to grazing properties and environmental areas.
Initial trial work has been conducted by Eric Moses of Wydgee Station who has successfully sprayed a small portion of the cactus to demonstrate the most effective technique to kill the cactus.
The secretary/treasurer of the Rangeland Fibre and Produce Association, Ann Pilkington, said that it is important that the rangeland community work with landholders that have any invasive species so that the community recognise the threat posed by these species to the entire rangelands.
These species don’t just threaten a single Station, they are a threat to all producers.
It is not just the responsibility of any one landholder that is unfortunate enough to have these species on their land and community groups like Fibre and Produce need to work with the landholder to obtain funding and assist with monitoring and ongoing control.
The project is supported by the Department of Agriculture and Food (WA) and Rangelands NRM who have been able to provide additional information on successful cactus control projects from other areas of the rangelands.
[Top left] Members of the Rangeland Fibre and Produce Association and Rangeland NRM inspecting un-treated cactus.
[Bottom right] Eric Moses shows Jorgen Jensen and Debbie Dowden look at dead cactus after treatment with Garlon 600.