Weevil war on water weed
5 July 2016
Weevils have been enlisted by Agriculture Victoria's Biosciences Research branch to wage a war against one of the state's most tenacious weeds.
Sagittaria platyphylla (arrowhead) costs Victoria's environment, water users and irrigators $2 million to control each year.
Native to the US, the aquatic weed chokes out native plants, affects the movement of fish in rivers, creeks and wetlands and causes silting and other problems in irrigation and drainage systems.
Chemical control has been costly, has had limited effect and can lead to herbicide resistance.
Two types of weevil, imported into Victoria's quarantine facilities at AgriBio in Bundoora, have undergone stringent testing as biological control agents.
A third insect, which attacks the sagittaria tubers, will also be imported over the next four years, providing a multi-pronged biological attack that aims to reduce the spread and impact of the weed.
Agriculture Victoria Biosciences Research executive director German Spangenberg said the sagittaria project is an example of how advanced bioscience contribute to the profitability and sustainability of agriculture.
"Agriculture Victoria scientists have been able to design a multi-pronged biocontrol approach that will undergo stringent testing in advanced quarantine facilities," Professor Spangenberg said.
"This approach is more likely to provide an effective long-term solution that minimises the use of herbicides in sensitive aquatic ecosystems, and has the potential to significantly reduce control costs.
"Sagittaria has been declared a Weed of National Significance and is imposing significant control costs on Victorian agriculture. This project has the potential to create sustainable solutions based on advanced bioscience."
The four-year project is part of a national program that recently received $6.2 million of funding through the Australian Government's Rural Research and Development for Profit program.
Other project partners are Goulburn-Murray Water, Murrumbidgee Irrigation, Coleambally Irrigation, Murray Irrigation and Murray Local Land Services.
For further information about this project: contact Agriculture Victoria Senior Research Scientist Raelene Kwong, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Biosecurity