Hudson pear is 'cactus'

New insect brings hope in Hudson pear fight

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North West cacti control coordinator Jo-Anna Skewes with Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall and Pete Dawson from North West Local Land Services looking at infected Hudson pear.

North West cacti control coordinator Jo-Anna Skewes with Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall and Pete Dawson from North West Local Land Services looking at infected Hudson pear.

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'Return and earn' style scheme for cactus helps to establish biological control agent.

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Farmers are pinning their hopes on a tiny insect that is eating its way through an invasive prickly weed infesting parts of the state's north west.

Around 25 landholders from Lightning Ridge, Cumborah and Grawin have been taking part in a three-year trial to eradicate the Hudson pear.

Farmers bring samples of Hudson pear from their properties and exchange it for samples infested by cochineal in a 'return and earn' style scheme, which have been bred at the Lightning Ridge Weed Biocontrol Mass-Rearing Facility.

Then they put the weed back in an impacted area and let the bugs get to work with small plants (under 30cm in height) being killed by the cochineal.

All of this data then gives the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) the insight to formulate recommendations for the large-scale roll-out of the biocontrol agent as part of an integrated management strategy to control Hudson pear.

To date a total of 840 tubs (each 35 litres) worth of Hudson pear have been collected and inoculated, with the focus now on rearing a healthy population through the winter so that material is available for early spring field releases.

The insects have also been released and monitored through the use of drones and imagery, every three months, at two field sites in Cumborah and Grawin, which have allowed researchers to understand insect dispersal, density and impact.

Dr Andrew McConnachie from the Department of Primary Industries and Agirculture Minister Adam Marshall.

Dr Andrew McConnachie from the Department of Primary Industries and Agirculture Minister Adam Marshall.

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the bugs had been found up to one kilometre from the release points on the properties.

"I've had a chat to a farmers and went onto their proprieties, who said the biological they are using is working well," Mr Marshall said

"Farmers admit they were cynical at first but are now convinced that this bug will help us crush Hudson pear.

Mr Marshall said in terms of weeds in this part of the world Hudson pear was the number one priority.

it's deadly for animals and renders paddocks useless and we don't just want to help farmers there but we don't want it to spread to other parts of the state.

"This bug will help combat Hudson Pear across the state, it is something I'm keen to seen done a much larger scale for county NSW."

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