Skip to content

Local councils join forces with North West LLS to defeat Harrisia

Meet the Harrisia cactus (Harrisia Martinii) a native of the Americas that has found its way to the North West. Its description reads like a script for an alien invasion from Mars, Harrisia has thorns that can pierce a tyre or a boot sole, its runners spread out in all directions like octopus tentacles, a single Harrisia cactus can produce more than 50 fruit per year, each fruit contains about 800 seeds which are encased in a sweet sugary substance attractive to birds, emus, pigs, goannas, kangaroos and ants, that then are able to assist its cause & spread the seed, either in their droppings or on their coats. It is so effective it can mat across areas of ground blocking out grazing access and reducing stock carrying capacity.  It does bloom but it is definitely no shrinking violet.

 In an attempt to arrest the Harrisia invasion early this year Ken Flower, General Manager of North West Local Land services met with the Northern Inland weeds advisory committee (NIWAC) which is a committee comprising of local government weed officers from across the North West who join forces to combine their expertise to eradicate weeds.

"I immediately saw the benefits of a collaborative effort to attempt to arrest the advance of this noxious weed. It was fantastic to have local councils weed officer's work together with the North West LLS and push the cactus back behind the containment line" said Ken.

The North West LLS funding has enabled an initial five week program to be conducted on over 772 ha in the Boggabri area. A vital aspect of the program is the ongoing monitoring phase which will be independently assessed over the next couple of years by Harrisia Expert, Les Tanner.

The North West LLS program follows the work done previously which focused on drawing a containment line at Boggabilla in an attempt  to reduce the further spread of Harrisia .

"The weed is tough to contain and even though there are biological controls they aren't as effective, spraying has proven to be the best solution,  researchers are still trying to find a magic bullet"  Said Ian Schwartz, weeds officer from Moree Plains Council and a veteran in the Harrisia battle  

The Harrissa 2014 response team includes from Gunnedah, Lee Amidy and Tony Woods Narrabri's Clare Felton Taylor& Geoff Michelle, Mike Whitney from Quirindi, Armidale's, James Browning, Peter Constance & Peter Doyle, Moree's Ian Schwartz, Gwydir's, Steve Kneller & Doug Stieger  North West LLS's  Gerrard O'Connor.

Media Contact Fiona Cutler 0427662856