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NSW Farmers to Get Cutting-Edge Tech to Fight Weeds

NSW Farmers will benefit from $24.2 million for cutting edge technologies to manage the state’s worst weeds threatening agricultural production. The funding boost under the NSW Weeds Action Program will also increase awareness, management, and surveillance of weeds through local council support while providing farmers and other land managers with expert advice, weed identification, and management options during property visits.

The region’s Agriculture Minister stated that the investment would modernise the state’s biosecurity systems. He noted that the government is putting smart technologies in place which will tackle weeds brought on post-drought, bushfires and floods.

The NSW Weeds Action Program is a key initiative of the State Government’s NSW Invasive Species Plan, which aims to reduce the devastating impacts of weeds on agricultural production and the environment.

According to a report published recently by the Department of Primary Industries, weeds are estimated to cost NSW over $1.8 billion a year ($1.3 billion to the farming sector), not including social and environmental costs. They reduce the viability of primary industries, threaten the survival of native plants and animals, reduce the natural beauty of our state and impact our health and well-being.

The NSW Weeds Action Program is the NSW Government’s initiative to reduce the impact of weeds in NSW. This report details investment between 2015 and 2020.

In 2015-2020, the NSW Weeds Action Program provided $57.6 million to reduce the impact of weeds in NSW, attracting $108.2 million in partner contributions. Property inspections, training, extension, compliance, planning, coordination and control occurred in each region of the state. Activities aligned to the goals of the NSW Invasive Species Plan – working towards prevention and eradication of new weeds and building people’s capacity to manage weeds.

Preventing new weeds provides a 100:1 return on investment. With hundreds of weeds already established in NSW, priorities for government investment sit with preventing, eradicating and 100:1 containing new weeds in the early stages of invasion where the return on investment is greatest.

The management of widespread weeds is supported where it provides greater benefits, increases effectiveness or targets effort to reduce their impacts. In 2015-2020 the Program targeted $14.6 million to prevent the establishment of new weeds, avoiding $1.46 billion in potential lost production and control costs to NSW communities.

The New South Wales Weed Risk Management (WRM) system is a tool developed to assist weed managers in NSW to determine priorities for weed management at state, regional and local levels. The WRM system is used to evaluate priority weed species in NSW.

The WRM system has been developed by the NSW Department of Industry and Investment, and collaboratively with various stakeholders including those represented on the Noxious Weeds Advisory Committee. The system was developed by reviewing WRM systems currently in use throughout Australia and adopting relevant components of these.

This WRM system is consistent with the National Post-Border Weed Risk Management Protocol (Virtue et al. 2006). Along with that protocol, this guide was written using the South Australian (Virtue 2004) and draft Northern Territory (NTG 2009) systems, with modification as needed for NSW.

The NSW WRM system aims to provide a standard, nationally accepted and transparent process to help make decisions about the introduction, prioritisation and declaration of weed species. It has been designed as a decision support tool for:

  • deciding which plants should be approved for release in NSW
  • identifying which plants require further research prior to release in NSW
  • prioritising weeds for the allocation of limited management resources
  • determining the appropriate legislative status for undeclared naturalised plants
  • reviewing the legislative status of currently declared weeds.

The NSW WRM system has been designed so that it can be applied to several geographic scales, for example, it can be applied to the state of New South Wales, to regions or catchments, or individual Local Control Areas, and may even be applied to individual land management units, for example, a farm or a National park.

New South Wales contains a vast diversity of primary industries, biogeographic regions and differing population centres. Each of these must be protected from the negative impact of weeds so that economic, environmental and social values are retained, and even enhanced for the future. The NSW WRM system seeks to provide a framework in which decisions can be made to achieve this goal.

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