Glastonbury property owner Frank Baas has joined neighbours to wipe out giant rat's tail grass.
Glastonbury property owner Frank Baas has joined neighbours to wipe out giant rat's tail grass.

Aerial assault on problem weed

FOUR Glastonbury neighbours have found a new hi-tech way to rise above weed problems that seem to get a lot of other landholders down.

Airborne herbicide distribution and a new range of granular chemicals have combined to help the innovative group get the drop on a weed menace - giant rat's tail grass - that threatens to ground many Gympie Region farms.

"Everyone's pitching in," landowner Frank Baas said as he and his neighbours watched.

They and interested Gympie Regional Council lands management staff were on hand yesterday as the jet turbine chopper, from Cooroy-based McDermott Aviation, got their experiment off the ground.

It was all a precise operation, with $20,000 for helicopter hire and about $10,000 worth of poison, which no one could afford to waste.

"But we'll do all four properties in a day," Mr Baas said.

"It would take me three months to do it the conventional way, with the tractor.

"And even then we couldn't do the hilly country."

The four Greendale Rd properties add up to about 460 acres, he said.

Spray boom and tractor distribution was much more expensive and less effective in the long run, he said.

"To do 30 acres in the corner would take the best part of two and a half weeks, including waiting for the right wind conditions and carrying the water you need to mix and spray the herbicide".

Mr Baas was joined by his neighbour Chris Bell, who organised yesterday's herbicide drop, his wife Donna and aunt Yvonne Erickson.

With careful distribution, the herbicide granules will sit on the ground until activated by rain, a process that mirrors the needs of the giant rat's tail grass seeds.

The granules will keep being rain-activated and time released for up to three years, mimicking the incredible durability of the weed it is aimed at.

"(The pilot) will do about 200ha in half a day," Mr Bell said.

"We're looking for about 3mm of rain to get things started," Mr Baas said.

"The pellets mix in with the soil and it would take quite a bit of rain to wash them away".

Andrew Brault, of McDermott Aviation, loads the chopper for its next sortie.
Andrew Brault, of McDermott Aviation, loads the chopper for its next sortie. Renee Pilcher

GRT facts

  • Native to central and southern Africa.
  • Commonly found as a weed in coastal south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
  • Grows in pasture, along roadsides, at disturbed sites, in open woodlands.
  • An upright and long-lived grass, it grows to 60 to 170cm tall and forms large tussocks.
  • Characterised by long narrow leaves and elongated seed heads.
  • Produces large quantities of seed.
  • Linked to lower pasture productivity and lower land values.
Gympie Times


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