In the wake of devastating floods in 2021 and 2022, a silent threat began to emerge in the form of invasive weeds that had spread and begun to take hold across flood-affected areas.
Prolonged rainfall and waterlogged ground prevented access to vast areas of riparian land, and when combined with an increase in nutrients and soil disturbance, these factors create a perfect environment for the rapid spread of introduced weeds.
Grant funding to the rescue
In response, the NSW State Government provided grant funding via Local Land Services to local councils, called the Early Needs weeds flood recovery program. This funding has enabled Port Macquarie Hastings Council to provide support to landholders in the form of weed control contractors, to address some of the most serious weed issues in the area.
A local solution for aquatic weed removal
One such project is the large-scale removal of aquatic weeds from a number of properties along the Hastings River, where flooding had spread several aquatic weed species, including Water lettuce, Water hyacinth and Salvinia across multiple dams, lagoons and wetlands. To avoid heavy pesticide usage in waterways, PMHC have been able to employ a local contractor with a novel aquatic weed harvesting machine to remove the bulk of these weeds.
The amphibious self-propelled vehicle is able to scoop weeds out of the water before driving up onto the bank to dump them, and return to the water for another load. In a win-win for the landowner, they can then mulch and spread the weeds across paddocks to provide additional fertilizer for pastures.
This process will remove thousands of cubic metres of weeds, and restore these water bodies to health and production. Furthermore it will remove the risk of these weeds spreading again in future floods.
Watch the aquatic weed harvesting machine in action below.
If you have issues with aquatic weeds, please contact Council’s Biosecurity Officer for advice and assistance.