INTRODUCING lippia to Australia as a garden lawn covering possibly in the 1960s in addition to European carp in the early 1900s have been the worst two environmental disasters for agriculture in all river systems west of the Great Dividing Range, according to retired Forbes district agronomist, Graham Falconer.
“While carp research funding has resulted in biological control, nothing seems to have be done in recent times towards the increasing spread of lippia weed,” Mr Falconer said.
“Science needs to catch up on this as biological control of lippia is the only solution left to the industry before this poisonous weed takes total control.
“Environmentally, it’s a disaster.
“There are literally millions and millions of hectares covered with lippia and they’re right throughout the western river systems.”
The former Department of Agriculture Forbes district agronomist and Forbes Shire councillor for 25 years said he had tried to get the message through about carp and lippia, but said neither were recognised as a problem to the “greener” section of the community.
“When introduced from across the Tasman Sea in the 1960s lippia was called New Zealand lawn due to its low-growing and choking out ‘weeds’,” he said.
“You didn’t have to spray it and you didn’t have to mow it.
“However, it escaped gardens and found its way into the river systems and was even toted as being a solution to riverbank erosion, which was a big mistake.”
No alarm bells ringing
Another former district agronomist, Paul Parker, Young, can’t understand why alarm bells are not ringing.
“We did go through a period 20 to 30 years ago but it just died down, maybe in the millennium drought of the 2000s,” he said.
“Government is spending millions of dollars on Sydney infrastructure and very little over the sandstone curtain.
“Surely when looking at infrastructure weeds have got to be a major item.
“If we could defer $200 million of that billion dollar infrastructure bank into biological research for weed control, we would get more bang for our bucks for rural areas in commodities and food production.”
Mr Parker said he had seen lippia as lawn in the Monaro.
“So it is widespread, whether the cold winters stop it from spreading down there as it’s everywhere else.”
A farming family at Boggabilla practicing excellent management was awarded the “Excellence in Farming” trophy of the 2017 dryland wheat competition for their farm and cropping management programs which included combating lippia weed.”
Both Graham Falconer and Paul Parker agree the only solution to lippia is biological control.
They said farmers were always blamed for environmental issues.
“Farmers were blamed for the increase of phosphorus in river systems through fertiliser but research showed carp and floods were the main problems loosening phosphorous from the soil, its natural environment,” Mr Parker said.
Mr Falconer said environmental flows or “over-flows” were also helping spread weed seedbanks.