Council Joins Task Force To Weed-out Invasive Species

Port Macquarie-Hastings

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is leading the fight to eradicate an invasive weed species which is one of our region’s greatest threats to valuable grazing land and river systems.

Biosecurity staff at Council are working with landowners and different government and non-government agencies to eradicate the highly invasive Tropical Soda Apple plant (Solanum viarum) from the landscape While it might sound mouthwatering by name, it is anything but.

Tropical Soda Apple can replace one hectare of pasture in six months from just a few plants. It forms dense thickets that prevent livestock from accessing shade and water and has sharp prickles that can injure people and animals.

If digested by humans, it can be poisonous. It can also damage fruit and vegetable crops, especially tomatoes, potatoes, and capsicum.

Most of the time, the plant is spread via cattle movements and machinery.

A task force has now been established through a partnership between NSW Government agencies, various local councils, NSW Farmers, Queensland Government and New England Weeds Authority, to strengthen the fight.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Biosecurity Officer Weeds, Matt Bell, said Council was working with the respective agencies to encourage farmers and landowners to immediately report sightings of the species.

“We are one of several agencies linked to the NSW Tropical Soda Apple Taskforce which has recently developed a new best practice manual for dealing with this weed,” he said.

“The manual has been designed to present advice for the management of Tropical Soda Apple in New South Wales. Its purpose is to empower landowners and farmers who may or may not know about this weed, to become familiar with it and help reduce the risk of tropical soda apple having a significant impact on their property.

“If you think you’ve sighted this species, you should report it to Council so that we can undertake an appropriate survey and initiate a safe removal method.”

Mr Bell will be undertaking an aerial survey of the weed later this month to understand the potential of infestations within our river systems, bushland and grazing land.

Tropical soda apple is subject to a statewide Biosecurity (Tropical Soda Apple) Control Order 2022 under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015.

“Landowners need to ensure no part of a tropical soda apple plant which could produce a new plant, including stems, leaves, fruit, and seeds, is moved off their land. This includes movement by machinery, fodder, and livestock,” Mr Bell said.

To learn more about Tropical Soda Apple, visit NSW WeedWise.

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